Sunday 8 April 2018

176th derby will go down in the annals as the greatest ever

Football eh, bloody hell. An immortal quote by the most successful manager in United's history and an equally apt description of the 176th Manchester derby - a rip-roaring contest that will go down in the annals as surely the greatest of all time. Michael Owen's last gasp winner in the dying embers of City's visit to OT in 2009 will always be fondly remembered and rightly so, but what happened in the derby on the 7th April 2018 will be immortalised as one of the best and most remarkable results in the history of this great club. It's a derby that will go down in United folklore as the most titanic of all derbies and one that we will talk about forever.

Where to even begin after yesterday? I'm still in shock at the incredible scenes that unfolded in front of my disbelieving eyes in the second half at the Etihad. It was one of the most astonishing, pinch-yourself, remarkable, unbelievable chain of events in a football match that I have ever witnessed. A half in which our club - a club that believe in making the impossible possible - did just that as we rose from the depths of despair that City's slickers had plunged us into after a first half in which they had left us not only beaten but battered, bruised and blasted to pieces. From embarrasment to euphoria in 45 minutes - 45 minutes in which the team showed exactly why we love them so much. It was a complete reversal of fortunes and emotions. 2-0 down against a side that many have touted as the best the land has ever seen - we were dead and buried and the unwanted guests at a title party that was only just beginning. If anyone asks what's so special about this crazy game we call football, just show them this.

This team have had their critics this season - sometimes justifiably so - but they deserve immense credit for turning the tables and winning a tie that had looked out of reach. No one - not even the most ardent of Reds -  gave us a sniff of a chance at half-time, but the team responded absolutely magnificently and set about their task in the manner of the never-say-die sides in the halycon days under Sir Alex.  First came the slumber, then the stirring of hope, and then the siege, an insatiable and irrepressible Red tide that even this City side were unable to resist as United swarmed forward like men possessed. To a man, every single one of those players gave every last drop for the shirt, in an immense and lung busting 45-minute performance of grit, courage, spirit, passion, character and unstinting determination. That's all you can ask for in a derby, and boy how we delivered. It was a sensational second half showing that the watching Sir Alex would have been proud of.
I'd love to know what Jose said at half-time, but whatever it was must have been Herculean and the team-talk of his career. This feels more than just a derby victory, this was a statement that - however good City may think they are - United will always overshadow them as the proverbial annoying big brother. The potential in this young United side is frightening and we've thrown down a marker that we're coming for them next season. On this evidence, it's a tantalising proposition. Anyone who thinks United are a spent force, think again. It's true there may still be flaws in this team, but there can no doubting the team spirit, desire and never give up attitude this group possess in abundance.

Of course, that does not disguise the fact that there's a gaping chasm between City and the rest, with the mere delaying of an inevitably for Pep Guardiola and his side. But on what was supposed to be their coronation day, the celebrations in Manchester were only for those of a Red persuasion.

Manchester is Red! Get innnn!

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