By Chris Wright
As you may have gathered by now, Manchester United went a whole point clear over City at the top of the Premier League pile yesterday, overtaking their bestest chums in the standings after trailing behind since October 15th of last year.
Chasing down league title number 20, United snaffled all three points with a 2-0 win over West Brom at Old Trafford while City huffed and puffed their way to a 1-0 defeat against Swansea at the Liberty – thus finding themselves in second place at the close of play for the first time in nearly five months.
We’ve got 10 games left to play. Sir Alex has solemnly vowed that United will ‘hold their nerve’ during the run-in, while Roberto Mancini has declared that City’s defeat against Swansea was ‘not critical’ and that the title will be decided ‘with three games to go’, i.e, – by the potentially monumental Mancunian derby at the Etihad on April 30th.
Sure, City have out-scored and out-not-conceded (to coin a phrase) all comers this season, but the salient stat – the one that really matters, their points total – has just become ever-so-slightly insufficient.
The oft-trotted out idiom is that it’s far easier to chase than be chased. However, given City’s lengthy reign at the top of the table this season, you’d have to fancy that the pressure will be on them to retake the throne before the curtain comes down on May 13th. And Sir Alex knows it. He feels it way down in his Irn Bru.
Mancini’s no duck egg, but Ferguson has been here before several times over. He knows the lay of the land. City may be able to call on a phalanx of £20+ million replacements in the 80th minute, but there’s no real substitute for experience.
(Apologies. That last sentence was trite to almost nausea-inducing levels. I will go outside and flog myself with birch thickets until the shame is gone)
Any road up, the question goes out to the Pies’ faithful: Who are you backing to hold their collective nerve and take the Premier League title this season? Manchester United or Manchester City?
Let us know all about it.