Manchester United v Manchester City 2007 to 08

man u away 2007 to 08 prog


10th February 2008

attendance 75,970

City Vassell(24), Benjani(45)
United Carrick(90)

City Hart, Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Ball, Vassell, Fernandes, Hamann, Ireland, Petrov, Benjani – subs Caicedo(75), Garrido(87), Sun(84), Geovanni(unused), Isaksson(unused),

United Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea, Nani, Scholes, Anderson, Giggs, Ronaldo, Tevez – subs Park(63), Carrick(72), Hargreaves(72), Kuszczak(unused), Simpson(unused)

man u away 2007 to 08 piper

man u away 2007 to 08 players

man u away 2007 to 08 wreath

man u away 2007 to 08 city fans

man u away 2007 to 08 silence


…United can make no excuses. City, their old foe, were simply superior in every department from the shot stopping of young Joe Hart, to the stout defending of Richard Dunne, to Didi Hamann’s intelligent patrolling and on to Benjani’s hugely effective front running. In spine, spirit and attacking brio, City were stronger than the champions.
man u away 2007 to 08 vassell goal
First thing’s first, am I glad and relieved its all over! (until we lock horns again next season, which we can say will happen with a degree of certainty. Let’s be honest, since the league fixtures came out, the date loomed large in the back of every City fan’s mind. We knew we were on a hiding to nothing, ready to be hung drawn and quartered by the baying United mob (or should that be MIB?!), the whole media circus, not to mention the millions up and down the country who are blissfully unaware of the shit and hypocrisy we have to put up with in the blinkered red world that a good number of reds still live in. Our club and its fans were under scrutiny from around the world, assuming (wrongly as it turned out) that a tiny minority (and lets face it, ONE idiot is all it takes) were hell bent Or, ruining the minute’s silence in memory of those who died (good to see all 23 are now mentioned btw, including City’s former legendary goalkeeper Frank Swift -RIP). But we’re used to being put under the cosh, not to mention out numbered and we’ve seen it all before, after all those who follows United are perfect little angels aren’t they? How many of us Blues have collected the bumps and bruises over the years on our visits to the Swamp for simply ‘daring’ to wear our colours? Our last derby win there back in 1974 was marred by a pitch invasion, with their ‘fans refusing to leave the pitch. and ignoring the late Matt Busby’s pleas pitch side to allow the game to carry on, causing the abandonment of the game Then to more recent times, and the Derby win at COMS was `celebrated’ by some of ’em putting a City fan in intensive care (and daubing on the pub wall outside MCFC RIP MUFC). So whilst a disruption on our part would have been disastrous for all concerned, it is easy to see the reasons as to WHY those who are privy to the facts (bad press concerning United very rarely makes the public domain as we know only too well), were genuinely concerned as to how the day would pass off. Even the counting clock which denotes the number of trophyless years that have passed us by was not on show today (not that it bothers me particularly, it was bought and paid for by some Dublin millionaire apparently), but their matchday programme carried an ad with it in a derby programme a few years ago, a total piss take at our expense, but totally lacking in class and respect on their part).
man u away 2007 to 08 vassell goal 2However. far from this being a bitter rant, I would now like to state on record about the POSITIVE moves made by BOTH clubs ahead of the big day itself. United and City co-operated fully in the build up to the game, and City’s offer to play in a special kit for the day (with Manchester Remembers woven in to the shirt) warmly welcomed by the Reds. City also distributed Frank Swift postcards to those of us lucky enough to have a ticket for the game, again, a subtle way of bringing the point home as to how, whether we liked it or not, a former City player perished in the plane crash. Also a message from Sven and captain Richard Dunne which conveyed the message about the importance attached to the 3,000 City fans, who were acting as ambassadors for the Club.
So back to the day itself, and Sunday morning felt like a summer day. The pre derby match nerves were there as always, and the thought buried deep in the back of my mind (and no doubt others) that today could be our best chance to win, given the special circumstances surrounding the game. (not wishing to sound callous here, just echoing my thoughts). We met up in our usual spot for a pre match beer (and I hasten to add this is purely for medicinal purposes on our part, it takes that little edge off the nervous system, honestly!). We discussed how we thought the day would go, some light hearted banter with some reds who’ve got to know us by virtue of the fact that every derby day they see us boozing in their car park! We were all in agreement on the Benjani deal, a smart piece of business on our part, not many people get the better of “Arry”! Mind you he owed us – Jamo and Distin were great deals for Pompey. The rumour had gone round that the turnstiles were closing 5 minutes prior to kick off, so we made our way up in good time, had the usual verbals as the reds around tried the usual intimidatory stuff (bet some of them think the TV hit series Life on Mars was recorded live last week). It was the usual rugby scrum to get in, can’t believe the old bill haven’t devised a better way to deal with crowd control by now, but what do the fans know eh?!
man u away 2007 to 08 vassell goal 3So safely inside, and another pat on the back to our friends from OT (don’t worry I’m not mellowing! Just saying it as I found it), as we were issued with a commemorative City scarf (free of charge), but the programmes had well gone (again it’s sad to say but it is already a collectors item on Ebay , I heard they have been selling for 10 times face value already), and the posters of Frank Swift, arms folded. on the wall, he looked a huge frame of a man.
Both teams were escorted on to the pitch, with a lone piper, before both managers placed wreaths in the centre circle. Then, the defining moment in Derby history, the referee blew for a minute’s silence, and with 73,900 reds scarves and 3,000 or so blue scarves held aloft, the most eerie silence I can remember was immaculately observed by ALL.
The only sound was the bang and echo of a couple of fireworks set off outside (we assumed it had been arranged as part of the remembrance at the time), which even if set off against the wishes of United, seemed to add to the occasion. As the ref (Howard Webb I’m glad to say!!) blew, one City punter got the first shout in of ‘Come on City’, as Old Trafford came alive, and plenty of applause in our direction for doing the decent thing. (Including a notable gesture in our direction from SAF himself?!). City fans then chanted `One Frank Swift’, and did so periodically throughout the match, which was acknowledged by the United fans).
man u away 2007 to 08 benjani goalPsychologically, it was game set and match. A tiny minority of mischievous reds (including ones sat above who threw ketchup bottles in to our section during the silence hoping to provoke a reaction!) had failed miserably in their futile attempts to goad ONE person into it.
Respect to EVERY Blue in the ground, we showed RESPECT and we showed CLASS.
Now normally the report to follow would go along the lines of brave effort by a vastly Inferior team, but United ran out comfortable and worthy winners. Well I imagine that’s what most of the press boys would have ready to print later that evening anyway. But an amazing thing happened at Old Trafford. City hadn’t read the script!!! Let me explain further!
Sven had gone for a the 4-5-1 formation, with Benjani leading the line on his own (as he has been used to doing at Pompey, scoring 12 goals this season in the process). No disrespect to Danny Sturridge at all today, but we needed all the experience we could muster to pose any kind of a threat at all to United (who were unbeaten at home in the league this season, conceding a paltry 3 goals from their 11 games). Our new Ecuador forward Caicedo was handed a spot on the bench. With Elano and Corluka out through suspension, we needed some big, big performances out there today. The first thing that took my eye was that we didn’t look the least bit over-awed by the occasion, and we passed the ball better than we have for a good while, on what was not the best playing surface by a long way (obviously they still have issues on the pitch at OT – we had of course played on a similar surface at Bramall Lane two weeks previously, and couldn’t pass for toffee!). We looked confident, and with the pace of Vassell and Petrov complemented by the trickery of Stephen Ireland, who started hesitantly but soon found his feet, we started causing United problems. The big difference was the presence of Benjani, as it was obvious pretty quickly that not only did we have an outlet up front. but his hold up play and skill was giving United a headache. Mid way through the first half, with the City fans -eeoing the volume right up (and a realising that we hadn’t just turned up to make up the numbers), Ireland swept the ball out to Petrov, who then played THE pass of the afternoon, to split the reds’ defence wide open, and back into the path of Stephen. His shot was smothered by Van Der Saar, but the ball landed at the feet of Vassell, who cannoned the ball back in, forcing the keeper in to a double save, but the ball broke lose again, and Vas was on hand to smash the ball home,   GOOOAAALLL!!!
man u away 2007 to 08 benjani goal 2Oh how we celebrated in the Mancunian Section! It was early days, and we knew that United would score at some point, but we’d struck the first blow, and we looked hungry, we looked composed in possession, and they were looking increasingly worried (with no Rooney to call on). Petrov soon delivered another killer ball in to the box, and Gelson so nearly made it 2 nil.  The home support, so used to lording it over us couldn’t look round and face the music. ‘My old man said be a City fan’ was the only song some of ’em could muster (the ‘bonfire’ song was on hold today, maybe as a mark of respect to us?? Well you never know, stranger things have happened), whilst we were busy singing PRO City songs (and the texts coming in confirming we sounded like we were playing the game at COMS).
man u away 2007 to 08 benjani goal 4Oh it was such a proud feeling to be a Blue today I can tell you    But we all harbour doubts, and no more so than when playing here, so when Ronaldo took the customary dive, we held our breath, and Howard Webb told him to get up off his arse! (should have been booked but can’t expect everything eh?!). J6e Hart then showed United that we have a real rival to Ben Foster for a future England keeper, with a great save to deny them. Dunne (who was fresh from his sick bed and hadn’t trained the day before) and Richards were awesome in the middle), whilst Hamann was like a conductor at the Halle, orchestrating our every move. Ball and Nedum were solid and dependable, but the thing that stood out was our willingness to track down and chase United when we didn’t have possession (no doubt mindful that our failure to do so at Sheffield United had contributed to our cup exit, as well as allow Arsenal time to put the game out of our reach at Coms), it was awesome. But the best was yet to come, as Petrov delivered another telling cross just on half time, and Benjani was able to steer a glancing header in to the corner of the net. 2 feckin 0!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was like all our Christmas’s coming at once!!
man u away 2007 to 08 celebOf all the days to put the Old Trafford hoodoo to bed, and even better, we were in complete control of proceedings out on the pitch. United couldn’t get off the pitch quickly enough, and half time came too early for us, we could sniff the scent of victory, and we never looked in danger of letting go. Of course United tried to rally in the second half, but they kept hitting the combined brick wall of Dunne and Richards. Hamann hit a screamer but fortunately for them Van Der Saar was able to gather it. Ireland and Petrov continued to probe. When United did break our lines, Joe Hart was out so quickly to smother the ball, he looked like Schmiechel senior in his prime sometimes. Ronaldo got so frustrated and spat his dummy out, something City fans were only too keen to remind him of. United had lost their shape, they KNEW we had outmanouvered and out-battled them, and the damage was already done. We just continued to back the lads continuously. The jinx was going to end at last, and we didn’t need anyone else’s help to do it, no controversy, no flukes, just sheer hard graft and a team ethic, contested in a sportsman-like manner. The announcement came over the tannoy that we were going to be locked in, but no one really cared, they’d have a bigger problem getting us to leave the ground, because This was OUR day, and we’d earned total bragging rights over the reds for the first time since 1970 – a cause for celebration and much merriment indeed!
man u away 2007 to 08 celebrate
United did get their customary goal right at the death, but half the home support had already drifted away, and we didn’t panic, we ran down the clock without any problems at all, before the ref (who had a brilliant game in that he was barely noticeable and probably helped by the spirit in which the game was contested by both teams) put the whistle to his lips for the final blast!
WE’D DONE IT!!! Oh what a day!!!! to be Blue. And you know what, a lot of reds will have learnt a helluva lot,( they either didn’t know or wouldn’t care to admit it, ) about City fans today. When it came down to `hey boys hey’, we showed class, dignity and respect – and no amount of trophies, money, fans can buy that – you have to earn it, and boy did we earn it at Old Trafford today.
To Sven, the management team, the players – we salute you. You were impeccable and we applaud you for giving us back our great City.
man u away celeb 3City fans???? Well a lot of Reds have eaten plenty of humble pie I can tell you before a ball was kicked in anger out there today, but I will leave the final quote to the Manchester United announcer who was happy to read a statement from them to us thanking us for impeccable behaviour. City are back, not before time, onwards and upwards.
man u away 2007 to 08 action
man u away 2007 to 08 action2
man u away 2007 to 08 action3


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