There were mixed feelings by both sets of fans before the kick off. A growing number of United fans thought they never had a chance, and as the first whistle went those initial feelings were looking justified. But as we have seen on many occasions in derbies throughout the years, the unexpected often happens, and it did.
Totally against the early run of play Rooney scores the first goal of the game 10 minutes in. The game as a spectacle of two top teams going toe to toe was effectively ended a minute later when referee Chris Foy sent Vincent Kompany off for a tackle on serial drama queen, Nani, that took 100% of the ball and 0% of the player.
Foy didn't even look as though he was going to blow the whistle until Wayne Rooney started flailing his arms in the air and screaming at him to be sent off. Quite ironic from a player that deliberately elbowed a player in the face earlier on in the season and got a hand shake. Or how about the time he blatantly and aggressively kicked a player who had the audacity to take the ball cleanly off him whilst playing for England and the FA decided the subsequent ban was too harsh.
The commentators at the time couldn't believe it, Kompany couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it, no one in the ground could believe it. No one in blue could anyway. Mancini laughed in disbelief, and not for the first time this season. Every report I have read on the incident agrees that Foy made a massive mistake, and again not the first one this season either. I hate having to mention the officials after a game but the standard of referees in this country is appalling. It's embarrassing watching the same ones game in game out make the same mistakes, making a mockery of the game without any punitive measures.
The next 40 minutes was a nightmare and I got that sick feeling as the 2nd and 3rd goals went in, fearing that this was going to turn into something embarrassing, all because of a ridiculous decision by the referee.
The second half was nothing short of exhilarating as Mancini came close to orchestrating a miraculous turn around. In the previous derby United spent 40 minutes with 10 men and got totally embarrassed by City. United fans all held up the "we only had 10 men" when they got hammered at home. So what was their excuse for almost shipping a 3 goal lead to a team that played for 80 minutes of the game with 10 men?
Some even had the audacity to gloat and say this was payback. I'm sorry, but that is utterly laughable. You spent almost the entire game against a 10 man City team without arguably the best defender in the league. Not only that, Joe Hart, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Gael Clichy, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, and Gareth Barry didn't take any part in the match and most weren't even on the bench. Add to that 2 attacking players, one who happens to be widely regarded as the player of the season by most pundits, David Silva and Adam Johnson were subbed off at the start of the second half. AND YOU STILL COULDN'T SECURE THE WIN UNTIL THE FINAL KICK OF THE GAME.
As for the influence and triumphant return of Paul Scholes, pah! He was at fault for the 2nd City goal, made a number of mistakes and United were clinging on to victory with him on the pitch. It's hardly anything to shout about is it? Having to bring back a 37 year old retired midfielder is not a sign of positive intent however you spin it.
If ever their was a time to be proud in defeat, this was it. At half time I felt totally deflated, but after the final whistle went I had nothing but pride and admiration for the squad and the manager who very nearly pulled off one of the most astonishing come backs in FA Cup history. I urge the United fans to take their red tinted glasses off and seriously take a look at that game and the previous derby, and I mean a really good look;
Now tell me City are full of mercenaries only there for the money. Tell me that City will bottle it when things get tough. Tell me that you really believe City are just the noisy neighbours old whisky nose said we were. Forget about your tired old cliches and one liners, think for yourself just for a moment, I know it's difficult for some of you, and if you can honestly tell me any of those things I will show you a liar.
Judging from the player's reactions after the game, this result has only served to confirm to them that they have the required determination and desire to go on and win the league. And it should be a message to anyone with a reasonable and objective ear that not only do City really mean business but United are not the same team they were.
Rarely is the Club's motto so relevant, but 'Pride in Battle' sums it up perfectly. You can ask for nothing more.
One last thing, if you're a United fan reading this a) What are you doing reading this? Anyone would think you're obsessed. b) Do give up with the "you'll never" speeches. Not only does it not actually bother anyone, it makes you look stupid and you're also beginning to sound like Liverpool fans. You wouldn't want that with them being your biggest rivals would you?
Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880 or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot