Thursday, December 03, 2009

Manchester United vs Manchester City in the League Cup: A warning from history...

After a less than impressive start against Spurs on Tuesday and after looking decidedly second-best in the first 15 minutes Sir Alex Ferguson's second-string managed to see off the challenge of the North London club thanks to two excellent first-half strikes from Darron Gibson.

Tottenham looked the most likely to score in the opening exchanges, but the visitors lacked a cutting edge up front. Gibson's second goal effectively killed the contest so it was United's name that went into the hat for the Carling Cup semi-final draw on Wednesday along with Aston Villa, Blackburn and neighbours Manchester City.

As far as the Red Army are concerned the League Cup has long been regarded as the 'Mickey Mouse Cup', especially in the early rounds, but every now and again the fans' interest levels rise, usually when United come up against a big rival. Without any shadow of doubt, interest levels rocketed again this week when United and City were drawn to face each other in the semi-finals.

Unlike the FA Cup semi-final's that have been hijacked by The FA the Carling Cup semi-final ties are played at home and the away venue, and United will travel to Eastlands before the Old Trafford return.

United have fans have been taking the Mickey out of City for the last 33 joyful years, due to the fact that it was 1976 when they last won a proper trophy, none other than the League Cup (Carling Cup)...

However, United fans might well reflect upon that fact the League Cup is the ONLY competition in which the Citizens' have won more Manchester Derbies, granted the margin is only narrow, but it was in this very competition that City enjoyed one of their biggest wins over United, that was in season 1975-76. The champions had just returned to the old First Division following a short but very painful spell in the old Second Division. After drawing 2-2 at Maine Road in September in the first League fixture between the two since United's return to the top flight the Red Devils were taken apart by City who ran out 4-0 winners in the 4th Round of the League Cup with Dennis Tueart (2), Joe Royle and Asa Harford scoring the goals. But it was United who had the last laugh when winning the final League game of the season 2-0 at Old Trafford, when Gordon Hill and Sammy Mac scored the vital goals.

For those Reds' who were around at that time, no doubt some of you still have memories of encounters with City from the 70s - dare I say some of them bitter. One that still rankles to this day was in 1977-1978 when the Reds’ took on City at Old Trafford.

City had won the first derby that season 3-1 at Maine Road thanks to goals by Brian Kidd (2) and Mick Channon. Reds’ fans and players' alike were keen to avenge that reverse; the return was played at Old Trafford on Wednesday March 15th, it finished up 2-2 on the night, City were two one down and thanks two goals by Gordon Hill; it looked like United would indeed take the points, but then late on referee Clive Thomas waved play on when Brian Kidd was standing fully five-yards offside when he received the ball. Kiddo scored the equaliser but only after Thomas had made one of the biggest refereeing mistakes of all time. Thomas 'the book' (as he was known) was a controversial official, not long after in the 1978 World Cup Finals he blew the final whistle and denied Brazil's Zico what would have been the winning goal against Sweden - that was a decision that has never been forgotten, and neither has his howler at Old Trafford just a few months earlier...

Roll the clock forward to 2009 and Fergie has been talking about sticking with the team that beat Spurs in the quarter final; there is no disputing the manager's reasoning, well there wasn't until the draw was made.

At no other time since the 70s have City looked so collectively strong, added to which Fergie recently went on the attack when calling our near neighbours a small club following City's provocative use of Carlos Tevez and that infamous "Welcome to Manchester" poster campaign.

Message to Fergie: IF you want to ensure that 33 year trophyless run continues and with Chelsea biting the dust then you'd better revise those plans and play your strongest team in both legs of the semi-final. Fergie should let his players do the talking on the pitch. If United lose the semi-final then in all probability City will bring to an end that 33 year hoodoo - if that happens the United manager could well stand charged with allowing it to happen, at least he will as far as many a seasoned Red is concerned. You have been warned.


  1. It's been a long time coming, many years of pain and embarressment suffered at the hand of Man'c reds. Surely United fans can't begrudge their blue brothers some success. Do you know how it feels to support a team like city? It's been hellish, but finally I have seen the light, a new era seems to on horizon, Blue moon rising and all that.

    Back in the MCR!

  2. Keith,

    I think City might win a trophy and I predicted as much at the beginning of the season - especially if Fergie sticks to his word about playing the second-string..

  3. I think that Phelan has already explained that we will not go all youth. He said United would "use a certain number of players that we have in the past." I think that this is just part of the message that there will be more first teamers in the mix. I am obviously reading between the lines.

    I do not think that SAF will let this get away from us. Hughes knows that too that is why he is trying to put pressure early.


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