Manchester City and Manchester United are all set for a tense final weeks after United's loss at Wigan
It’s squeaky ar*e time, lads ‘n’ lasses, a two-horse race between a team from the obscure Borough of Trafford and a team from a famous city called Manchester. It’s pretty amazing that a relatively insignificant suburb could produce a Manchester United, what with Cottonopolis sulking to the northeast, small and wet with its two restaurants and nothing to do – according to Invisible Man, Carlos Tevez. Even more amazingly, the swarthy deserter has re-materialised and is looking like he may well make a significant contribution to City’s title run-in, despite his boss’s proclamations that he’ll never work in that town again.
When the 8-point gap yawned open last weekend it looked like it might be all over, but that was before the United team decided to share a massive payoff from an Asian gambling syndicate by not turning up and allowing the Piemen to piss on our chips. That’s the only plausible explanation for the sickening display United put on at Wigan this week. United fans love to crow about how we “never do things the easy way”, which really means: “Our ar*es fall to bits at the last minute”, or “based on universal probability laws we’re bound to lose some games, sometimes”, depending on who you are and what kind of skewed perspective you’re manning. I tend to be a moaner, so I’m in the former camp, while lads twenty years my junior often exhibit infinitely greater maturity by espousing the latter.
But what the hell was the script on Wednesday, with Valencia playing in some weird little hole in the channel while lesser beings attempted to run the right wing? Antonio has been our Torpedo-in-Chief of late, and we need him flying down that touchline and deliverin’ tha bomb like only he can. Bloody gambling syndicates; I wish they’d do one, and take the 9/11 conspirators and alien lizards with ‘em, an’ all (apart from that ginger alien linesman who disallowed Wigan’s perfectly legit goal, obviously. He’s proper weird looking that one, but he’ll do for me.)
Meanwhile, over at Small & Wetville, they were cheering and roaring in those two restaurants as the mighty Citizens of ‘Nopolis crushed West Bromwich like a humbug under the Doc Marten boot of an angry skinhead on Blackpool prom. It was a red humbug, which is a bit strange, and I’m not completely sure why I chose Blackpool prom as the setting for that rather violent image, probably because I confused a humble humbug with them big thick flat sticks of Blackpool humbug-flavoured rock with the tapered ends you used to get, that were shot through with black and white stripes. “But West Brom’s kit is actually navy blue stripes, not black ones”, you cry, and now we’re really rambling ...Now where were we?
in terms of head-games, the difference between Mankini and Taggart is like the difference between a Butlins comic and Richard Pryor
Oh yes, Small & Wetville. Skinheads. Boots. The Citizens of ‘Nopolis. Aguero’s “stupid injury” all cleared up, QuickSilva back on his surfboard, and Visible Man putting in a frenetic shift (there’s nothing all else to do, right) saw City give the finger to the Asian gambling syndicates and turn our 8-point lead and superior goal difference into dogshit. I’ve repeatedly said I will not gloat nor celebrate until this thing is in the bag, but today it feels wide open again. United supporters are a funny lot; when the chips are down they’re all paying lip service to our fantastic manager and the team’s experience, declaring it a sin to be pessimistic, insisting we’re gonna win out over the Citizens of ‘Nopolis or whoever happens to be our temp nemesis. But when we’re 8 points clear they’re all insisting we keep our traps shut and don’t make ourselves look like idiots by jumping the gun. There’s no question that SAF is a master of game theory. He’s burst many a balloon at this stage of the season, leaving his counterparts shriveled and deflated among the debris of their dead dreams. But now it looks like City have their own sorcerer’s apprentice, in the form of Roberto Mancini. A funny geezer; that little chin, with the little grin, and the impish attempts at the English language and the attacks on his own players. What a card he is, or so he thinks; in terms of head-games, the difference between Mankini and Taggart is like the difference between a Butlins comic and Richard Pryor. Mankini’s refusal to acknowledge they were back in it after the West Brom game was laughable, especially when he suggested a 5-point cushion was too great an obstacle to overcome.
And then there’s the issue of United’s “easier” run-in. I’m having serious doubts on that score as well, now. When the ‘Nopolitans still had to go to Arsenal it did look grimmer for them, but now it’s evened itself out, I reckon. Everton at Old Trafford has never been a foregone conclusion (well, almost never) and this year they’re feeling good about Liverpool being rubbish and this weekend’s semi-final clash may well influence what happens the following weekend at our place. It’s not like United supporters need an excuse for wanting Liverpool to lose, but this is definitely one such case. We also have to face Super Vorm and Swansea, who might have nothing to lose by May 6 and just go balls-out for a laugh, which won’t be funny. Not for us, anyway. Not if they’re organized and relaxed and we’re nervous and neck and neck with the Bittermen. Sunderland away is our last game of the season. This is the team that was winning 1-3 at the Etihad but sadly blew it. Under Martin O’ Neill’s tutelage and inspired by the form of Sessegnon, the hard tackling of Lee Cattermole and that little gaggle of United cast-offs, Sunderland might also decide on a bit of a jolly at our expense. They’re well out of the relegation zone, so why not?
Which leaves the biggie: The derby at Small & Wetville. A lot of United supporters have recently been asking “would you rather get a guard of honor at City or win it at City?” Personally, I’d rather just win it ASAP and forget the guard of honor. There’s no way the bitters would give us one anyway. But it is without doubt the game of the season. All eyes will be on Wastelands when the teams take to the pitch. City will have been to Norwich and Wolves by that point, the former presenting more of a challenge than the latter, but I foresee them winning both easily. We’ll have played Villa and Everton, both at home admittedly, but anything can happen. As one of rock’s most overrated stars, Tom Petty, once said, the future’s wide open…
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