Sunday, 17 April 2011

"This is a big moment for us" - Semi-final reflections

I think I'm going to leave today's sport pages out for at least the next couple of months.  Coming downstairs to see Yaya's gleeful face refreshing the memories of yesterday is the perfect kick start to the day.  I'm sure there are self-help books that advise something along the lines of 'find something that makes you very happy and leave it on full view, so that you get a positive start to the day.'  Done.

Weeks ago, when the tie was announced, a United 'friend' at work looked at me warily for a few minutes and then said 'I have a bad feeling about this.  It's coming.  It's about time you beat us,' and whilst there is a hint of a veiled jibe in there, he meant it and we both knew it to be true.  The 0-0 was drab but City should have taken more; City were the better team at the Swamp but something unbelievable happened.  If, as Mancini was suggesting, this is to be the turning point in City's history, then not a small part of it will be evidence that we can beat the best teams on the important stages.  One of the only criticisms that can be levelled against City this season is that when we have come up against the established sides we haven't always looked like we believe we can beat them.  If this can change, then it is those established sides that we will be attacking next season.

Ferguson played on this before the game - the hint that City players wouldn't be able to cope with the big occasion as well as United would - and for the first half-an-hour or so this looked like it was to be the case.  A bit of a blunder between Barry and Lescott on the edge of the box allowed United to pick their way through the City defence and Joe Hart made an excellent save - only to see a more presentable chance squandered seconds later.  But from then in, City pushed up and in the final stages of the first half looked the more likely to score.  Barry rippled the side netting, Balotelli smacked one at goal from as far out as possible, Lescott awkwardly volleyed over, and Kompany produced a smart curling shot around the post.  This little spell helped to settle the nerves.

City came flying out after the interval (apart from the obligatory 'make the opponents wait on the pitch' tactic) and the pressing of Gareth Barry, David Silva and Yaya Toure forced the goal out of nothing.  Barry chased the lost cause and then a complete shambles of mistakes pushed the ball to Yaya who, in his calm storm of power and poise, bounded past Vidic and stroked the ball home.

The fear of forty minutes of nerves and panic never came to fruition - with City still pressing before Scholes decided to spike Zabaleta in the hip - with Nani's deflected free kick the closest United could suggest to a comeback.

Yaya was magnificent; it seemed he has been saving all of his energy for this game and looked like he could hardly move by the end.  Whilst his work rate has been questioned at times this season, you can see these high pedigree players come into their own in the big matches.

Zabaleta and De Jong were typically busy on their returns to the side - and that added bite was something that was missing earlier in the week.  Balotelli kept his cool (apart from one little piece of 'mischief' at the end!) and held up the ball well enough for no one to mention the absence of Tevez.  From a man who doesn't celebrate, it was heartening to see him get so involved in the post match jubilation.

It was celebrated like the cup final itself but, if Mancini is right, then something else was being celebrated here.  A big party to mark the moves to 'change the history of the club'.  However, as Mancini and the City fans are equally aware, there is still another game to win if we want to banish the 'typical City' moniker from this cup run.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.voicesnet.org/displayonepoem.aspx?poemid=201944


    Ok guys that is the link to the site that this poem is on. There is also another City one up there too called 'Manchester City Blue' about the Semi Final. If you have time give them a read, leave him some comments. I am sure there will be more, maybe he'll even get a book started.

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