I could not bring myself to write after the Blackburn game last week. It was a disaster and, like most other people, I fully wrote the title off when the final whistle blew. Then watching Chelsea against Bolton on Tuesday only made me even more furious and resigned to the title race. Spurs beating Arsenal was great, but only to help us come second not first I thought. Then queue a crazy Saturday that has given me and most Reds a huge boost and put Chelsea in a seriously worrying situation. We arrived at the City of Manchester stadium nice and early, and around 20 of us gathered nearby and walked in convoy to the ground. The sun was shining, every City fan had their replica shirt on and a few twats were in fancy dress, either with Arab head gear or tradtional inflatable bananas! Outside the United end Reds were stodd around waiting for the team news and, when it came through, it was greeted with mixed reactions. There was obvious delight that Rooney started, but many were furious that the trio of OAPs were starting again. My view is that Scholes and Neville have been absolutely fine in recent week and that Giggs has been off the pace but is far from over and will re-find his form soon.
United were clearly the better side. There were a few wobbly moments but, as Gary Neville observed, we passed them to death! Adebayor, Tevez and Bellamy were not allowed to get in the game and tyhe only concern was a repeat of the week before at Blackburn where we just would not be able to find the breakthrough. When Rooney went off my heart sank; Berbatov did not even look like scoring but Nani totally changed the game and Obertan was also involved in the goal. I cannot describe that feeling as the ball hit the net. Forget the title race, this was shear pride at doing City in stoppage time three times in a season. Blue heads in hands crying, people whinging all the way back to their cars, our noisy neighbours seeing 4th place slip away. What a moment - as good as O’Shea in front of the Kop.
As it all kicked off outside we quickly got the hell out of East Manchester. The adrenaline pumping through me was immense, scoring so late does not give you time to calm down again before you leave the ground and I wanted to sprint down the street or scream as loudly as I could. Neither would have been sensible. Instead we walked along with our heads down, grumbling that those Red bastards always do it, smiling inside as we pretended to be blues and were consoled by gullible knobends.
About an hour after the game I was still convinced Chelsea would win, and that even if they drew it would not help us due to the goal difference. I cannot explain what emotion I went through listening to that game but Lampard’s late consolation had me absolutely terrified. Chelsea were lucky in the end that their goal difference was not toally crumbled, but it is only 3 better than ours and we can close that gap. They crumbled under pressure which is a great sign of weakness- had they won I would have said they deserved the title. Now their fixture against Liverpool will terrify them, although we cannot be complacent as our next two games are also tough challenges. But what I admire is that, whatever happens from here, the right team will deserve it. Had Chelsea won because we had thrown it away at Blackburn or because they had beaten us due to an offside goal then I would have felt cheated of a good title race, but now whichever team prospers and holds their nerve will be fully entitled to lift that trophy.
Chelsea will still be favourites but if we beat Spurs it places them under proper pressure, and while I never believed those who said it was not over after last week, all of a sudden I am delighted to have been wrong. Never write United off is a big lesson for the future and one I have sometimes forgotten. It is still in Chelsea’s hands but this weekend really could have been majorly significant.