I made the mistake last night, as I’m sure several others did, of listening to BBC’s Five Live directly following the Manchester derby, in which City beat United 1-0 at the Etihad to match them on 83 points and put them top of the table on goal differential with two games to go.
The last time I listened to that particularly grating sports call-in show was back in 2005, when Chelsea were well on their way to taking their first top division title in fifty years. Back then, you’ll remember, United finished third behind Arsenal and the champions Chelsea, 18 points off top spot (a considerably worse fate than the team is enduring now).
The complaints about United were exactly the same as the last time around. Some firmly believed that Manchester City, should they win the Premier League, will have bought the title, which the same aggrieved United supporters said of Chelsea seven years ago. The host of the show complained about aging players and openly mused about random European players United could simply go over and buy (Schweinsteiger in particular struck his fancy) to “get better”, as if the continental domestic leagues were a giant wholesale depot around the corner. And one United fan was audacious enough to call for Sir Alex Ferguson to quit or be sacked, exactly as several had called for in light of Jose Mourinho’s first Chelsea title.
In the intervening years between my two Five Live listen-ins, Manchester United won four domestic titles, three league cups, and a European Cup to boot. While reason urges me to point out that Sir Alex Ferguson is now 70 years old, at the age of 63 many thought in 2005 that Fergie would only last one or more years at the helm at the most, certainly not seven.
All of this is to say that despite Patrice Evra’s recent talk of revolutions in the existing order if City win their first title since 1968, United won’t crumble in post-Matt Busby fashion. As a City blogger (of all people) pointed out on the show, Sir Alex is already likely planning a return strategy, over the next two games, yes, but also for next season, and perhaps even the season after that. He also said, and I agree, that a City title win wouldn’t be the disaster for United many in the English media are claiming, but the motivation for Sir Alex to stay a bit longer to help transform, yet again, a team many are naively dismissing as past it based on a single, wayward season.
Nigel Reed bigs up the Amway Canadian Championship, which is apparently hated by snobs that may or may not actually exist.
Waking the Red shoots down the “bad luck” angle at Toronto FC.
Montreal Impact defender Nelson Rivas is close to making his first team appearance.
United’s problems worsen as Danny Welbeck picks up an injury.
Roberto Mancini still delightfully denies City are favourites to win the title.
Sir Alex Ferguson accuses Mancini of playing referee.
Arsene Wenger eyeballs Jan Vertonghen.
Marko Marin says he hopes Di Matteo is still the manager when he shows up at Chelsea.
Max Allegri is wary of AC Milan’s “must win game” tomorrow against Atalanta.
Allegri also says he has Berlusconi’s backing.
David Alaba: a star is born.
Daniel Van Buyten signs a new deal with Bayern.
Bits and bobs
The Manchester derby on ESPN in the US pissed off a lot of giant pieces of shit.
Avi Creditor here to remind you about MLS.
And that, give or take, is the story so far…