George Caveny bites back….
I have to say I’ve not been crushed by a defeat quite so badly in a long while. That really was hard to take, and I found it very hard to be pleasant with my nearest and dearest for the rest of the weekend, particularly if they were wearing anything red, were called Paul, or had the slightest hint of the ginge – even one too many freckles. Grrrr… even writing about it makes me go a bit like Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther. But Clouseau is lovable. Scholes isn’t. Not today, and not for a while yet.
It’s what he does, I suppose. Sir Gum put out the veterans, and that suggested immediately he had no intention of the fixture being open – which is when City are dangerous. If anything, perhaps it’s a badly-timed reminder for City that they are not quite the finished article, and that we’ve yet to start dealing with pressure and expectation as we should. It was an over-hyped ‘must win’ for both teams, and while United were as tatty as us at times, they were more agricultural and workaday. They’ve done this many times, on bigger stages, under far more intense scrutiny. So while we can still snatch defeat from the jaws of respectable draws or victories, United are well versed in precisely the opposite. That, in reality, is the difference, and perhaps we have to accept it for a while longer.
Then of course, Chelsea decided to wear dresses to WHL and flounce around talking about recipes and make-up instead of restating their position. That said, hats off to Spurs, who were admittedly on fire, but… for heaven’s sake. Could it have been a worse weekend? The texts from United and Spurs fans on Saturday evening didn’t help.
It does mean we’re all still in the mix, even more so than before. But if City aren’t careful, it’s going to be more of a sickeningly shambolic sixth than a frustratingly fair fifth. If it isn’t fourth, it doesn’t make a great difference, but I’d just started puffing my chest out and strutting about giving people those knowing ‘watch out’ looks and winking like a market trader. Now I feel silly. Deservedly so.
But hey. It’s no way over yet. Wigan flipping Arsenal inside 12 minutes is as good an indication of this as we’re likely to see. I just hope my head doesn’t burst in the next three weeks. Ecstasy or despair… composure, composure, composure…
Ultimately, the final statistics worry me less than the repercussions for Mancini, and attracting the right players. With a CL spot in a World Cup year and Sheikh Mansour’s chequebook, we really could kick the doors down. I fear a poor run-in might thwart that, and I mean in terms of jelly-legs and lack of conviction, not the League table – which probably won’t reflect the entertainment it has brought.
I’ve said before that fourth might be a double-edged sword for us, but either way, with this degree of financial backing and some faith in Mancini, we could well be aiming for the heights that make some of our current squad players dizzy and ineffective. And on the flipside, we should fight the perception that fifth or sixth isn’t good enough, and avoid knee-jerk responses that will merely prolong the wait for better days.
I think we’ve already plenty to celebrate, whatever happens. Lest we forget, this is the toughest league in the world, and until very recently, we were barely good enough to stay in it.