I’ve been told on the Twitter that Norway’s TV2 started their lead-up to the Manchester City v Manchester United title-deciderish at 12 PM local time, which underlines the fact that it is likely to be the Most Watched Premier League Match in This or Indeed Any Possible Universe. EVAR! Which is precisely why here in Canada it’s on TSN2, to make way on the main channel for the Friday Night Fight (on Monday afternoon) between Denis Grachev vs. Ismayl Sillakh.

While the Roy Hodgson, England Manager story has eaten a lot of the headline space (perhaps a little dig by the FA at Richard Scudamore?), the derby is still generating a lot of totally useless useful pre-game teeth chattering.

The Independent: They’ve gone the “passion of the game” route, relying on flowery adjectives that give the reader the vague sense there will be a football match on later today. James Lawton sums up the mood:

If ever a night was made for Sir Alex Ferguson, and the peculiar force which has shaped his astonishing reign at Old Trafford, it is surely the one due to unfold at the Etihad Stadium tonight.

Pushed into a corner by recent failures of nerve, and some basic defensive technique, facing a team which, man for man, has to be pronounced the more talented, Ferguson must do what he has always done best.

He has to fight and rage against the possibility that after so many years at the top, finally, his number is up.

I would have gone with the image of Sir Alex as an old man waving his cane at his vintage TV set in one last attempt to change the channel to PBS for a Lawrence Welk rerun, but I’m not paid the big bucks like Lawton (the Independent paywalls, by the way).

The Guardian: Radical left-wingers that they are, they’ve slaughtered one of old journalism’s most sacred cows—meaningless pre-match blather—to make way for some young boffin with his charts and his lasers. Michael Cox:

Therefore, rather than the brute force of last April, the best way for City to pressure Scholes and Carrick will be to crowd attacking players around them. If they are unchanged from the side that defeated Wolves last weekend, City will have Tevez and Agüero up front able to drop into deep positions, plus David Silva and Samir Nasri cutting into central zones from wide. Combine that with Touré and Barry pushing up, and United could be drastically overrun in the centre of the pitch.

What? What about United’s never-say-die character and Tevez’s influence? Rubbish, I say.

BBC That’s why we need an Alan Hansen to put away the computer chips and the subbeteo boards to give us some real analysis we can chew on:

United, though, are old hands at this and have experience and quality when you look at people like Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney, who have been there and done it many times before.

Boof! I’d like to see your fancy pass completion percentage rates compete with that, David Silva.

The Daily Mail: As usual, the Mail wins the headlines stakes, going with a very hip and with it “Game of Thrones” metaphor. Plus they’ve got banal photos of players walking through airports with bags, which sets the mood quite well really.

The Telegraph: is a bit of a mixed bag sadly, although I did like this little sneaky stat:

Since losing 1-0 at Southampton on Jan 19, 1998, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have played in 24 Monday games and avoided defeat each time.

United have racked up 19 victories and five draws in that time, including Monday wins against Tottenham, Wigan and Blackburn this season.

While this would make a statistician gag every which way before killing them altogether from rage overload, it’s a little cleft for United fans to cling to as Sergio Aguero repeatedly bombs down the wing.

And that’s…kind of it. Remember that Kristian Jack will be writing a full match report available after the match this afternoon…

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