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Man City's recent hiccups have handed the initiative back to neighbours United
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Title tide has turned

By prolifik on March 29th, 2012 in Blow the whistle 5 comments
Title tide has turned
Mind games master - Ferguson
Masters of the league title run-in, Manchester United, have moved three points ahead of their “noisy neighbours” to swing the odds of lifting that illustrious Premier League trophy in May firmly in their favour. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side could only manage the one goal against Fulham at Old Trafford but it was enough to claim a hard fought victory and a crucial one at that.  

Wayne Rooney’s 29th goal of the season puts United in pole position with just eight games of the season remaining following Manchester City’s draw at Stoke. In typical fashion, United seem to have come good just at the right time, and just as the cracks are beginning to appear in the steady ship that Roberto Mancini has been steering so far this season. Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?  

There’s no denying that United are the experts when it comes to the end of season run-in. They tend to thrive on the pressure of the “must-win” game when others have, in the past, been known to crumble. Ferguson always relishes the opportunity to play mind games with his opponents. Who can forget the famous Kevin Keegan outburst back in 1996 where he retorted “I will love it if we beat them” in response to provocation from Sir Alex? Newcastle famously surrendered a 12 point advantage to lose the title to United that year.  

While one wouldn’t expect the same thing to happen to Mancini and his Man City side, there is an element of doubt as to whether they will be able to cope with the pressure of potentially needing to win all their remaining games, including the derby match at the Etihad, which could well turn out to be the title decider.  

Mancini has already had to display a certain amount of mental strength and discipline during his time at Man City, not least to deal with the strops and the fallout with Argentine hit-man Carlos Tevez and the somewhat bizarre behaviour of the Italian enigma Mario Ballotelli. But Mancini has handled these situations well. He has also got the experience in winning three successive titles in Serie A with Internazionale. But I think it’s fair to say he never had an adversary quite like Fergie to contend with.  

The mind games have already begun in this year’s title showdown, with Patrick Vieira, who is currently a football development executive at Man City, labelling United’s move to get veteran midfielder Paul Scholes out of retirement as a sign of weakness. In fairness, it probably was a desperate move, but it was also one that’s paid dividends as Scholes has been instrumental in United’s success this season and he has provided them with vital experience in the middle of the park and an added threat going forward, whilst knitting the play together nicely and using his excellent vision to set up attacks.  

Fergie’s response to Vieira’s comment was to mention the Tevez saga. When Tevez allegedly refused to come off the subs bench in City’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, Mancini said he would never play for club again. But six months later and after a long sequence of rebellious behaviour and trying desperately to get a move elsewhere, then going back to Argentina and refusing to return, Tevez is now amazingly back in a City shirt again.

Mancini has essentially had to back down on his previous statement. Fergie has claimed that this is an act of desperation but it shows that Mancini realises if his side are to come out on top in the title race they may need to call upon all the resources they have got at their disposal, even if that means backing down on his principles. And in Tevez’s first appearance back in the fold he managed to set up Samir Nasri for the winning goal against Chelsea to secure a vital three points.  

What could hamper Man City in this title race more than anything could be the fixture list. Man City have got a few tough games still left to play, including trips to the Emirates to face in-form Arsenal, Carrow Road to play Norwich and St James’ Park to meet Newcastle, or the SportsDirect Arena as I think it’s called now. These could all be tough games and could all be potential banana skins. Arsenal are currently in a rich vein of form, having won seven league games on the bounce. Newcastle are still very much in the hunt for a top four place at the moment so getting a result against City could be vital for them. Norwich have proved tricky to play against on their own patch for anyone this season as well.  

When you look at United’s fixtures, with the exception of the derby match at the Etihad, they all look to be winnable games. In the form that United are currently in, it is hard to see them slipping up. In fact, it’s quite likely they might be able to afford to lose the game against City and still come out on top come the end of the season. You could argue that their toughest encounter aside from that one will be the game they have coming up against Blackburn at Ewood Park. Steve Kean’s Rovers side turned United over at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day with a quite astonishing 3-2 win. The odds are probably against them repeating that feat but you never know.  

It’s going to be an extremely interesting title run-in whatever happens and it certainly looks like it could go down to the wire. But with it being City’s first real stab at being in this kind of situation and with United’s relentless ability to get the job done when it really matters, plus the knowhow and psychological power that Sir Alex brings to the table, it would take a brave man to bet against United reclaiming their Premier League crown.

Contributed by richbrawn1
By prolifik on March 29th, 2012 in Blow the whistle

Title tide has turned
5 responses
1 May, 2012
Man City are responsible for the Wayne Bridgification of the moredn footballer. By paying exorbitant wages (bridge rumored at 90,000 pounds a week) we see wages in the bigger teams sky-rocketing and the cashed up sugar daddy funded squads bulking up with every big name going around. These players either become highly paid bench polishers or sick of no football, seekers of loan moves or permanent moves .the only problem is the other teams can neither afford the wages or the transfer fees required to recoup funds. A slight rule change like teams being unable to underwrite loan moves .can stop this nonsense of player hoarding 2 0
1 May, 2012
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2 May, 2012
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3 May, 2012
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3 May, 2012
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