Sir Alex Ferguson will be sleeping a little less easier than he did a fortnight ago. After City’s loss against United’s old foes, Arsenal, the points difference between the top two expanded to eight. The cigars were almost lit. Roberto Mancini conceded the title and expressed that Mario Balotelli desperately needed to salvage his career.
Two games later and the outlook is very different. It is unlikely, yet possible, that the United players believed in their own hype in delivering a lacklustre performance against a hungry Wigan side who took all three points. The lead over the cross-city rivals dropped to five points as Man City crushed Norwich 6-1 but the title race was still ‘finished’ according to Mancini.
Then on Sunday, the unthinkable happened. United surrendered a 4-2 lead, at Old Trafford, against a Niko Jelavic inspired Everton, to draw 4-4, dropping a further two points whilst City swept Wolves aside to reduce the gap to three points. It could not be more exciting for the neutral. City entertain United next Monday in a Mancunian derby of epic proportions. Yet, given City’s rise from the ashes, Mancini’s media conference left a slight hint of Kevin Keegan about it. Is the Italian losing his marbles at a time when the momentum has left United and joined the City train?
“You all wrote the title race was finished. Seven days ago, the race was finished. You wrote it.” said the seething Italian, who decided not to remember that it was he who told the media that the title race was over. “Only one team can win this title. It’s not in our hands. Put your money on United, 100%. I don’t have a message for Sir Alex. If I did it would only be ‘Congratulations for your season and for this title’.”
Despite the bizarreness, if City win this weekend, they will reclaim top spot on goal difference. Argentineans, Sergio Aguero and the recalled Carlos Tevez have forged a formidable partnership which has netted City nine goals in the last three games. Fergie will be concerned at the prospect of facing the Premier League’s most in-form strike force.
However the game ends on Monday, it will be no cake walk to the title, given that both Clubs face tricky away trips up to the North-east. Expect a few more surprises before the end of the season. It’s a funny old game.