Monday, 10 December 2012
Up and down Green Lanes. For family reasons, I was unable to watch the first half, so I missed both of the first two Rag goals, but I did catch City's replies and the ludicrous free kick which so cruelly ended it. In the lead-up, I kept seeing bookies ads saying that they would refund all bets if Van Persie scored, so it was almost inevitable, even if it did happen in the crucial closing minutes. Always likely to be 'one of those matches' it certainly didn't let anyone down in terms of drama and excitement. For a while, I dared to dream that we would get a penalty in the 93rd minute and stuff Sir Alex's mind games down his throat. But no.
Much could be said about whether there should have been a free kick at all, though there wasn't a massive protest about it, and it was given, so little point in bemonaing that. Once it had been awarded, if there had to be any one player to blame, it would be Nasri of course. I didn't get to see Mario's contribution either, because I arrived at the screen just as Carlos was brought on in his stead, but opinion seems to be (largely) that Bobby made a mistake in starting him in place of the plucky Argentine. Some City fans on Twitter were saying that Balotelli had been hard done-by, and he put in a good shift, but I can't comment on that. Tevez looked pretty up for it I thought, and his presence did seem to galvanise us into piling a bit of pressure on the Rag twats. As for Nasri, I've said it before and I'll say it again: not good enough! Undeniably an extremely talented player, he fails to put in a shift all too often, seeks the Hollywood pass, or the YouTube showreel highlight, and then waggles his leg while sheltering behind Dzeko in the defensive wall. Maybe (another lowlight I failed to see) if Vincent hadn't gone off injured, we might not have conceded the second, and maybe there are too many maybes. These titanic matches sometimes seem to have their own unstoppable momentum, played out like King Lear to a terrible conclusion - almost elemental in character.
After they scored at the end, there was a surreal quality to events; a confusion of images as Ferdinand started pulling his shirt up and then stopped, seemingly overcome with the emotion of it all, while everyone in the pub (Rag and Blue together) laughed; and then there's blood trickling down his cheek, the Rag players are all legging it towards Hart's goal and the final whistle blows. Heart rates start to slow down and the hateful world gradually swims back into focus. The hero lies dead at centre stage and the curtain slowly billows down in silence.