Boy, did I enjoy that little sample! But I think we've yet to appreciate the full impact of last season's events. City systematically dismantled, one after another, a whole series of psychological barriers put in place over 20 years to keep City well under a big red thumb. I think many of us first realised that something significant was in process when we saw how wildly everyone at, and connected with, OT celebrated their one trophy winning victory of the season - the community shield. Rooney insisted this had taught us a footballing lesson and put us in our place. We spent the season showing him that he was wrong, disastrously wrong.
The season proper began with the widespread assumption that United had shown their usual expertise in the transfer market (known as taking candy from Bebes?) and strengthened their squad by buying the best English talent and a superb Spanish goalkeeper. They had the deepest and strongest squad in the PL and would win the title again. Despite a disconcertingly impressive start from City's mercenaries United started well and were, of course, handily placed to move clear at the top by winning the derby at OT. Lesson number one: City were not overawed at the "theatre of dreams" in a big game against the world's gretest ever team managed by the father of all managers. At the end Ferguson seemed stunned to the point of irrationality: 6 - 1 to the Blues, 3 goals in stoppage time to show who got the late goals these days and Fergie unsure what his team was doing attacking so much, despite their tradition of late come-backs and his own introduction of a forward, Little Pea, so late in the game! Mancini couldn't understand the fuss - 3 points for beating United just like any other team. United weren't even City's hardest fixture!
Never mind. Fergie is the master of the mind games! City will blow up, unable to keep this pace up! City haven't got the experience, they'll lose their nerve - a whole succession of rag has-beens and never will-bes screamed this on every back page as often as possible. Mancini was "losing it" (he's Italian you know). Every one of these truths, everyone of these articles of faith for rags since Moses brought them down Mount Sinai was stripped away with ruthless efficiency - just as they appeared to have been fulfilled.
After the defeat at the Emirates City were 8 points adrift with 6 to play. Mancini admitted the title was United's. City had "capitulated" as the gleeful Hansen had predicted. Fergie couldn't understand this mind game as City then produced some of the most exhilerating football of the whole season to win three on the bounce, scoring 12 and conceeding 1! But as Mancini sobrely reminded us, United are a "strong" team, they had the experience, the winning mentality, they knew how to deal with a run-in to a certain title. Fergie and his players could handle a defeat at lowly Wigan without any trouble! Trouble is they couldn't! Well, at least, they were now under so much pressure THEY blew it at home to Everton. All the title winning expertise of De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Young et al was to no avail. But I disagree that United threw it away - they simply aren't as good as their propaganda.
Then to the Derby. City 1-0! Fergie must have got his tactics all wrong, United never play defensively and they didn't even get a shot on target. The trouble is that Fergie knows he actually got his tactics spot on. There was only one way to stop his midfield having their balls run off, as had happened at OT in October, and that was to pack the midfield, defend in numbers and play hard, but pray harder, for the point. It didn't work, Fergie blew his top, Mancini didn't flinch - and the world saw who came out on top in that mind game. City's next performance - the 2-0 win at Newcastle - was such an insolent display of title winning class and mental strength, in a game the rag past and present were sure would be too much for brittle City that rags were at their wits end. And so to the coup de grace.
City were the club that could take a silk purse and turn it into a pig's ear. They alone could lose at home to a club facing relegation in the last game of the season (United's performance at home to Blackburn was never mentioned). And so it proved...well, almost! 2 - 1 down, needing to win, in the 2nd minute of stoppage time...This is red territory, their monopoly! Well, not any more. Fergie time turned traitor. It's City now who never say die, who fight to the end, who rescue lost causes...who win titles.
WOW, that was moving!!