United beware: City look ready to make a lot more noise
Sports professionals are forever banging on about “taking the positives” from setbacks but for everyone connected with City, their performance and the whole occasion on Sunday showed that they really will be a force to be reckoned with over the next few months and years.
Every time United shook them off with a goal, they came back with a tighter bite. Even when the champions were peppering their goal during a period of dominance in the second half, City stayed in the game.
They were felled by Michael Owen’s 96th-minute winner, sparking wild scenes on the touchline and some enjoyable jousting from the managers.
Current England rugby manager Martin Johnson has said that he felt sure England would win the 2003 World Cup final after seeing how Australia celebrated their semi-final win over New Zealand and United’s joy, even allowing for the dramatic nature of the finale, was a few notches up on anything seen in a derby win for decades.
“They seemed quite excitable at the end which shows you what this win means to them,” said Mark Hughes. “It was reminiscent of some of the scenes with Brian Kidd and Alex Ferguson in days gone by and I saw Gary Neville running on the pitch like a lunatic.”
A smiling Alex Ferguson said: “Sometimes you’ve got a noisy neighbour and you have to live with it. You can’t do anything about them and they keep on making noise.”
Hughes responded by saying his former boss had better get used to it. “We are not going to go away,” he said.
Ferguson, for once, decided not to pass comment on City’s spending power — which was probably a good idea given the fact that his team on Sunday cost an estimated 126 million pounds to the 122 of City.
But he knows that the funding City have will keep them on an upward trend and that performances and occasions like that on Sunday – for all the defensive frailties on show – will help attract more big names next time the transfer window opens.
“We are disappointed to leave here with nothing, but that shows how far this club has come,” said Kolo Toure. “We showed to everyone today we have the qualities and the spirit to mix it up with the big boys.”
Ferguson photo by Phil Noble