Part the First: NSFW but in the words of the great Winston Wolf, and I will paraphrase because this is a family blog, let's (ahem) avoid reveling in the pleasure of the moment without considering that much work is left to be done. Chelsea came into this game with legs of lead after a brutal 1-1 Europa League draw against Sparta a mere three nights previous. As a result, we looked for the first time in eons as (gasp!) the faster team. Only Darren Cahill and to a lesser extent Demba Ba moved as if they were fresh and in the former's case, I tip my cap what with him playing every minute of every game next to CB's that are less than steady. My point being Chelsea was far from their physical best. I don't mean to be a downer (perhaps the pain of Southampton is still too fresh, 6 goals and two matches ago but still...) but we need to take into account that Chelsea had as much gas in the tank as we two weeks ago.
Of course, that didn't stop me from loving every minute of this glorious match.
Damn right, I said glorious. Previous entries of Cinco Pensamientes noted that the Citizens play extremely well in the first 15-20 minutes of a match before things start to slide. Versus Chelsea, this was not an issue and for that we can all be grateful. My unedited notes from minute ten:
For ten minutes, everything going right-balls being headed away, passes made crisply, Chelsea on their heels... just fantastic. Everything but a clean shot on goal. Pushing YaYa forward? Cool.
Ten became twenty which in turn became thirty and on it went. So, yes, Chelsea was tired and yes it made a difference but I would add this caveat: we weren't losing today, people. There was no way Joe Hart wasn't going to stop Lampard, no way Kolo Toure was going to make the wrong decision, no way Pablo was going to let Eden Hazard get a free breath. There was no way Nastasic was going to do anything to damage his standing as the most valuable 19-year old in the EPL (is there another?), that Aguero would downshift to a lower gear. David Silva looked every bit the POY he was 12 months previous and if YaYa Toure ever has a fan club, I'm running for president. Soncis097 had it right (and not for the first time in his life, I might add) when he implied that it was next to impossible to pick a MOM; there were too many candidates. My vote would've gone to Kolo Toure because I can't ever remember being more impressed with one of the better people in the EPL but, truthfully, I'd like to divide my vote into eleven pieces.
Part the First 1A: Praise Be, Roberto Not for nothing but how many times has Man City been down only for Mancini to pick them up with some of the best soccer we've seen in these here parts in many a moon? He does that, you know. I'm asking how many times because I'm starting to lose track. We're going to make the UCL, we might win the FA Cup (though if today's ref shows up for the Man United match, I'm calling a special session of parliament) and we'll probably have a few signings over the summer. I'd like Mancini to be there when it happens. We are thisclose to greatness, people, and we're pretty damn good as is. I think Mancini has a lot do with that.
Part the Second: I Need Excedrin, Tylenol and Perhaps Something Stronger
WARNING: I swear this is what I scribbled down on a series of bar napkins and on the backs of paper menus after watching today's match surrounded by Man United fans. When they found out I was a Man City fan and that I wrote for a blog (details aren't all that important), I was asked if I could write down why we're "so far behind us even though you spent all that money" and if I didn't hear it fifteen times, I probably wouldn't have wrote what I wrote below. But I did hear it fifteen times so, if I any of the following offends Red Devil fans, I apologize... but not that much. To wit:
To my new readers from the pub, I'm grateful for the feedback this morning and welcome to the blog. I was asked if I had the guts to print the "true" reasons why you guys are 12 points up. To my mind, there are five principal differences between our beloved Citizens and the Red Menace this season. They are as follows:
2. Dumb Luck
3. Pure Luck
4. Robin Van Persie
5. Sheer Luck
Am I suggesting that Man United has had the luck of the verde (yeah, I'm learning Spanish) for the entire season? Actually, I don't even think I'm suggesting it; I'm flat out stating it. And normally, I would let luck slide (we won by one goal last season and we're grateful, not bragging) except I tire of dealing with a Red Devil fanbase that, with few exceptions, couldn't be more insufferable if they showed up for matches wearing a bow tie with a valise in tow or with clubs and pitchforks and there is no in between. They're either snobs of the first order of the kind of kncukcle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodytes that think evolution should replace the first 'o' with an 'i'. I suppose I shouldn't paint with such a broad brush but how jaded can these folk be? Here's what one of the reds dared me to print in the blog. I am obliging:
For those not in the know, our match v. QPR is a somewhat grudge match for United, as QPR were beating Man City late into the last game of the season, handing United their 20th title. However, upon finding out they weren't being relegated, they (allegedly) stopped trying to defend, even throwing a throw in directly to Man City players. City scored 2 goals in a short amount of time, took the title, and QPR celebrated with them after scoring the winner in stoppage time.
What is the color of the sky in the world of this man? How far into her own arms did the Rosemary who gave birth to him hide her head in shame? Upon reading this tripe, Clio, Muse of History, would have promptly dropped four Ambien before leaping into the Aegean. And lest we dismiss this as the ramblings of a random Man United fan, let it be said that a cursory visit to any Red Devil blog will burn into your eyes the kind of jaded thinking that got Galileo the rack and witches burned. I was watching the Chelsea match with a college professor, a lawyer and an engineer--all Man United fans. And to a man, they firmly believe that QPR threw the last game of the season just so they could stick it to Fergie. All I could do was ask if they were serious and they looked at me like I was the crazy one. There then followed the dare to print the above missive and a request to "recognize the truth when I see it." I told them I would do so, confident that irony isn't the only thing floating above their heads.
Part the Third: Gus Johnson He adds enthusiasm, energy, and excitement and he preps his ass off. I will fight with every fiber of my being any and all criticism of one of the colonies greatest exports. I was a small-time play-by-play guy, former sportscaster and I will be more than happy to provide detailed analysis of all that Gus brings to a match but for now, those three "E's" above should be enough. His energy matches exactly the fans in the stadium and in a perfect world, that would be enough. The Man U fans I watched the game with? They couldn't get over Johnson calling Hazard French, even after Johnson corrected himself. Sorry, folks. His call of both goals and Hart's save should be bronzed. I wish him a long career in the EPL.
Part the Fourth: Dear Jack Rodwell... more, please. Speaking of which...
Part the Fifth: Poll! You know what to do.