Now for the big one
- Mon 23 Apr 2012, 8:37AM
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
So, that's official then. It's only going to be the biggest derby ever, ever. Who says so? Well, just about everybody, including the manager of defending champions Manchester United.
Roberto is playing it down of course - more of that later - but we can all brace ourselves for the biggest derby build-up ever, with the teams not due to play until a week today.
Mark Ogden in the Telegraph is in no doubt: "Sir Alex Ferguson says the Premier League title race will be decided at the Etihad Stadium next Monday after billing the 163rd Manchester derby as the biggest of his 25-year reign as Manchester United manager."
His exact words? “It is definitely the most important derby in my time at United. We need to get a result at the Etihad, there is no question about that, we need to perform.
“But there is no reason why we can’t do that. There has been an expectancy from City that it could be their decider, but it’s our decider too.
The game on Monday would always be a derby of highest proportions and it won’t be any different now
Great stuff, and there's a whole week now for the tension and excitement to grow, as well as a few million words to be written. This is a proper title race now, isn't it?
Oggy points out that Sir Alex has lost only seven of his 44 derbies, but adds: "With City holding a superior goal difference, a win for Roberto Mancini’s team will take them to the top of table with just two matches remaining for both clubs."
And lest we forget: "City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford last October has contributed hugely to their goal difference lead over United of six goals, which could yet prove decisive in the title race."
Not much to cheer about over in white rose country, but the Yorkshire Post knows a good scrap when it spots one: "Title still not in our hands, says Mancini, but Ferguson disagrees".
They run Roberto Mancini's post-match quotes, including: “You all wrote the title race was finished. Seven days ago, the race was finished. You wrote it. I congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson on a good season.
“After the derby we play Newcastle, who are fighting for the Champions League, and QPR, who are fighting relegation. We can talk about the title next Monday night. It’s impossible.”
We're not sure anyone's falling for that one any more, Roberto ...