|photo by The Wandering Angel||via PhotoRee|
Q. Any derby day surprises to the United starting lineup?
A. Quite unsurprisingly, yes: for beginners, how about Fergie starting his "backup" goalkeeper, David De Gea, less than a week after telling the British press that Anders Lindegaard had become his number one choice between the sticks....? Although many United fans likely saw though this managerial feint, there was a palpable sense of relief among the Twitterati when the young Spaniard's name was revealed as first choice. Other surprises included the selection of the recently injured Antonio Valencia and Tom Cleverley, and the fact that the starting eleven did not include a single surname spelled Scholes, Giggs or Fletcher. Onward and upward, as they say.
Q. How 'bout for the remaining quarter of Manchester?
A. We were a bit surprised to see a Sky Blue lineup that included Mario Balotelli at the expense of Carlos Tevez, but we were not as shocked to see David Silva experiencing the type of miracle cure usually reserved for those bathing at Lourdes. Tom Cruise revealing himself as a City fan pre-match seemed entirely appropriate, as well.
Q. How went the early going?
A. It was virtually all City to begin the game, as might be reasonably expected at Eastlands. That is, until the Wayne Rooney goal on about the quarter hour mark, which came against the run of play and on the Reds' very first effort on goal. The scuffed shot, none too pretty in and of itself, looked a real beauty in the eyes of United fans worldwide.
Q. Did City get right back up after the surprise counter?
A. It was actually United who seized the momentum and appeared to have the bit between their teeth. The Reds appeared determined to impose their will on the contest, a turnaround that became even more evident when Rooney capped off a sweeping move to double the visitors' advantage near the half hour mark, this time more emphatically finishing Rafael's picture perfect pull back.
Q. So, 45 minutes in, and 2-nil to the Reds. Your thoughts at the half?
A. We couldn't have been any happier after viewing the team's best half of the season. Showing great urgency both on and off the ball, the Reds played with ambition and determination, while the Blues looked the very picture of a toothless tiger. Roberto Mancini slowly twisted on the sideline as his team played the ball side to side, while Sir Alex looked as energized as his charges as he walked to the locker room. In addition to Rooney, standouts for this viewer included Ashley Young, as well as the entire United back line: the shape was good and the lads were disciplined.
Q. Any notable developments to begin the second half?
A. Yes: Jonny Evans was forced to limp off almost immediately after the second period began, and Mario Balotelli was handed his walking papers in favor of Carlos Tevez shortly thereafter. Somewhat less surprising was seeing Samir Nasri being booked for verbal abuse, his oral diarrhea finally raising the ire of referee Martin Atkinson -- the latter about to become central to the outcome.
Q. Turning point?
A. The game's hour mark, when Ashley Young was wrongly flagged offside on a third goal that would have clinched the game, right before Yaya Toure rolled home a goal to bring the match back to a boil. If the mistaken flag was an injustice, Kolo Toure's stone cold penalty on Patrice Evra a short while later was yet another fateful decision the referee managed to cock up. If United get all the calls, we wouldn't want to see a world in which the decisions go the other team's way.
Q. Home stretch description...?
A. We were more nervous than a ceiling fan store owner with a comb-over. While extremely disappointing, Zabaleta's 86th minute equalizer felt a bit anti-climactic it part because it looked as if it was always coming once Atkinson managed to bollocks up the game.
Q. An 86th minute equalizer! You must have been very disappointed with the draw...
A. Don't get ahead of yourself. You've got to remember we're talking about Manchester United, a team known for it's late, dramatic wins. The mood switched from funereal to raucous with the flick of a magic foot, as Robin Van Persie's deflected free kick narrowly beat the outstretched Joe Hart for a stoppage time winner. Gone in an instant was City's two-year home unbeaten streak, and the lead at the top of the table bulged to 6 points. No sooner had the late drama unfolded, though, than passions boiled over, with Rio Ferdinand bloodied by a projectile thrown from the stands, and an on-pitch invader stopped only by a brave City 'keeper.
The Manchester Derby served it up once again yesterday, as a contest that has handed us Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney's dramatic late game victories as well as last season's infamous 6-1, gave us a game you couldn't take your eyes off of. You can bet that we plan on watching it a time or two more....
This is an elated farlieonfootie for December 10.