What The Papers Say On City 1 United 0

A shift of power? That's what the gents of the press are saying this morning, after City took over as favourites in the title race with their derby win over an anaemic United...

Last Updated: 01/05/12 at 08:48 Post Comment

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* 'There is still a way to go; still two matches in which advantage in Manchester's first duel of football's modern era - although surely not its last -might shift again. Yet City will know they will never have a better chance than right here, right now. They will know the title is theirs to lose (just as it was Manchester United's before this game), despite the well-rehearsed negatives of manager Roberto Mancini.

'He will continue to play down the chances of his team, citing United's supposedly advantageous fixture list and greater experience, but few will be taken in after this. Kompany's flyer told how City really feel. It was not the leap of runners-up, not the jump of an also-ran. On the last day of April, Kompany rose like a champion, at first to head the goal, and then to glory in it, and few think City will come down to earth in May.

'It was a huge result and, strange as this seems, may come to define the reborn City even more than the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in October. Extreme results can be discounted and nobody seriously believes there are five goals between these teams; just as there are not six between United and Arsenal' - Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail.

* There was no lack of aggression on the touchline where Sir Alex Ferguson's finger-jabbing, expletive-filled tirade at Roberto Mancini was straight from a Friday night in Govan. But we looked - and looked again - in vain for Manchester United's famous defiance out on the Etihad Stadium pitch. The story of the "derby of all derbies" was of Manchester City boldly laying claim to United's title and Ferguson's men offering such mild resistance that it came close to surrender.

'Never write off United, they say. And never underestimate City's ability to cock it up. But this was a night when old truisms seemed to die before our eyes and City fans dared to dream. There is no moral claim to the title - all that matters is the most points - but City followed their 6-1 humiliation of United back in October with a 1-0 victory that was, in its own way, stunningly emphatic. The best team in the country? A jury would have returned a verdict here without even waiting for the last two games on which the championship depends' - Matt Dickinson in The Times.

* 'United have lost to Wigan Athletic, surrendered a 4-2 lead at home to Everton and they came off the pitch here after a night when the opposition goalkeeper, Joe Hart, was barely required to get a scuff of dirt on his shorts. Ferguson and Mancini were nose to nose at one point in a row that has, almost certainly, blown a gaping hole in their relationship. Ferguson tried to prolong the argument afterwards, complaining that Mancini "was badgering the officials all game". The Italian's eyes lit up when he heard that one. "He doesn't talk with the fourth official?" he asked, heavy with sarcasm. "The referee? Never?"

'Mancini did not milk the moment too much, though. "It's not finished," he maintained, pointing out his team still have to go to Newcastle United on Sunday before ending the season against Queens Park Rangers. "One team that's playing to get into the Champions League and one that's fighting relegation. If we think it's finished, it's a big mistake."

'All the same, it was difficult not to leave this stadium without the sense that City now have all the momentum. "We never tested their goalkeeper," Ferguson said. "Our crossing was poor. We had some control of the game, but not enough. Nothing really happened."

'Ferguson did not appear at the post-match press conference but there was one final twist in the form of Liam Gallagher making an impromptu appearance. "Top of the league, how about that?" he asked, as he took Mancini's seat, and inevitably he had his own view of the Mancini‑Ferguson spat? "Must have been on the whisky too much." - Daniel Taylor in The Guardian.

* 'How could he, after 10 appearances in the Premier League this season and a spell of gardening leave longer than any of Capability Brown's horticultural projects? If Manchester City's Argentine strikers were playing trumps, Sergio Agüero won by bringing his famous father-in-law to this metropolitan melee.

'Nothing could be cooler than handing one of your complimentary tickets to Diego Maradona for a game that might decide the title race. The stats favoured Aguero too: 22 league goals in 28 starts, to compare with Tévez's four in four. Together, they ought to have been a mighty combination from August to May, not just at the season's end.

'City bristled with intent against a United side who deployed Wayne Rooney alone up front and assigned Park Ji-Sung to stop Yaya Touré's rumbling midfield runs. That just left Aguero, Tévez, Samir Nasri and David Silva to deal with' - Paul Hayward in The Daily Telegraph.

* 'We could say that on the most important night of their football lives they looked a team who were more than enough to beat the team who have set the standards of professionalism and unbreakable ambition in this football land. They won, deservedly, and in the taut process they showed a depth of talent and resolve upon which it is entirely reasonable to believe they can build.

'Maybe they will also put behind them the sense of a team too easily disrupted by a shortfall in discipline, but for the moment that is another chapter, another challenge.

'Last night they met the one that pressed on them so heavily as well as anyone could have expected. There are a couple more left and most difficult is the one that faces them at Newcastle at the weekend. In 1968 they won there, gloriously, for their last title. As last night wore on, City looked increasingly equipped to achieve a new piece of football history' - James Lawton in The Independent.

* 'A bitter wind blew through the Etihad Stadium last night as Manchester United's grip on power weakened. Sir Alex Ferguson zipped his jersey up to the neck and pulled his overcoat more tightly around him to try to keep it out. He looked a little fragile for once, old as well as cold. And what he saw unfolding on the pitch must have chilled him to the bone. The United manager is built differently from most of the rest of us. Defiance and self-belief rarely desert him. He was fiery to the end last night, held back by the fourth official as he remonstrated with Roberto Mancini deep into the second half.

'But a man who has bestrode our game for so long must have wondered if what he was seeing was the beginning of the end. The end of his side's 20 year reign over English football, the end of the dominance he has built, the end of an era. Because however scrappy this match was, however nervy and lacking in moments of inspiration and creativity, it felt as though it signaled a shift in the balance of power in English football. Manchester City did not win the title with this victory over their silenced neighbours last night. But if they close out their season with wins at Newcastle and at home to QPR, they will clinch their first top flight championship for 44 years' - Oliver Holt in The Daily Mirror.

* 'IF the body of a 70-year-old Scot is discovered face down on the floor of his Cheshire kitchen this morning, do not suspect foul play. It will only be Alex Ferguson having decided it was time to end it all.

'As he said after Manchester United's infamous 5-1 Maine Road thrashing in 1989: "I was as close to putting my head in the oven as I have ever been. And there would have been plenty of volunteers to turn on the gas."

'He will have gone to bed last night feeling considerably worse after watching a pale imitation of the United team that had stampeded to the top of the table hand the title to arch-rivals Manchester City' - Steven Howard in The Sun.

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