April 30th, Etihad Stadium. The Manchester derby is decided by a marvelous Vincent Kompany header just before halftime. City goes top of the table and eventually wins the league – apparently the final day was pretty special.
The second half of that late April game was marked by a hilarious confrontation between Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson. Fergie, upset by a typically brutal challenge by Nigel De Jong on Danny Welback, voiced his displeasure with just about everyone on the sideline. Mancini responded in kind – leading to an intervention by the fourth official.
Once again United and City are expected to challenge for the championship when the season gets underway this weekend. With the addition of Robin van Persie, Mancini believes the Red Devils are the clear favourites:
“Van Persie was the best striker last year,” Mancini said. “With Rooney they will have one of the best couple of strikers in the Premier League. I was serious last week when I said Manchester United were the favourites. They have been playing for the title every year for 20 years,” he said. “We can’t change this situation in one year.”
This is nothing new from man with the well coiffed hair. Mancini before the April 30th derby:
United are the favourites. They have easy games. They play against Swansea and Sunderland. We have two strong games, Newcastle and QPR. One plays for the Champions League, the other for relegation,” the Italian said.
These comments aren’t intended for the folks at Old Trafford. Mancini’s players appreciate his attempts to deflect pressure from the team – related question: are footballers the most emotionally unstable professional athletes in the world?
While I believe Mancini was being facetious with his comments regarding United last season, a strong argument can be made in support of what he said today. The additions of RvP and Kagawa trump Jack Rodwell’s arrival in the Eastlands. That said, City’s backline and goalkeeping are a cut above United’s. A strike force of Tevez, Aguero, Balotelli and Dzeko matches up well with Rooney, van Persie, Welbeck and Chicharito.
UK bookmaker William Hill has City at 13/10 to win the title, and 2/1 odds for United. What do you guys think. City, United or the always intriguing – somebody else?
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