Manchester United FanZoner Craig Malpas is pinning his hopes on a Newcastle victory this Sunday.
One last twist left in the title race?
So, its come to this. Forgive the melodramatic start of this blog but my head has only just stopped spinning from the events which took place at the Etihad this Monday. Or, should that be the lack of events from any United players? Really, with two games to go, behind on goal difference and the fate of the Premiership title is in filthy blue hands. I'll say it again, how has it come to this?
I think the end of the season might be the time to delve in to that messy question. Without doubt, it's a topic United fans will have plenty to add to. Hopefully Fergie will use the scare or, as it may turn out, the disappointment of City's imperious performance this season to first cut the squad and then add significant replacements, Premiership title number 20 or not.
In the meantime and, in the aftermath of the devastating derby defeat, I first have to admit to having my very own Kevin Keegan moment on Monday night. As I sat and digested what had just happened, head in hands I involuntarily burst in to a rendition of Keegan's infamous 'I'd love it' rant. In the words of Simon Cowell and all the other talent show wasters, I really made it my own too...
As soon as the final whistle went, I am pretty sure that a mixture of the following three emotions paralysed United fans. First, was total devastation that the City fans taunted, mocked and rightly looked down on for years might have their day. Second, was Newcastle - they're a good team we collectively thought. They've got a chance we muttered to console ourselves.
Then, what happened next was that United fans remembered seeing the Wigan-Newcastle result the Saturday before and suddenly thinking how much more important Mondays game was going to be. And then, the disappointment smothered us again as we felt as though you would if your girlfriend suddenly got with your worst, ugliest and most filthy rich enemy.
Later on that evening, my brother and a mate heard me declare in an unexpectedly high pitched voice how much I would love it if City didn't beat Newcastle, how I would love it, I'd love it, love it I told them... I think I may have even said I would give my house away but anyway, heat of the moment and all that. Then, for the first time ever, I felt a shred of sympathy for Kevin Keegan after his head had been mashed by Sir Alex. I really would love it though. How ironic that United's title hopes now rest largely with an old Premiership rival!
Now, we go in to the weekend knowing that Monday morning could be one of the worst Monday mornings in footballing terms for many, many United fans. Seeing your colleague, your boss or your mate grinning smugly after City beat Newcastle. Hearing the jibes, hearing 7-1 on aggregate, hearing how we bought Phil Jones and they bought Kun Aguero and hearing, and pitying just a little, about how City have all but wrapped up their first Premiership title.
Surely, although it's cute in a way, that can't happen can it? We are United, we eat Premiership title's for breakfast. They are City and while we have a reputation of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, they are renowned for doing a City and messing up the most cast iron of all certainties.
For this weekend, we must put history, reputation and normality aside as, this weekend, for all United fans, it's in Pardew we trust. Newcastle's victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge gave United fans a reason to be positive. The Title suddenly felt back on. City, we remembered, were taking on a Champions League chasing team at the raucous St James Park (As I insist on calling it). They have to take down the mighty Tiote, the cultured Cabaye, the forgotten but talented Ba and the legend in the making, the outrageous Papiss Cisse. No, this title isn't over, not by a long way.
In the last week, there was expectation, there was Kompany, there was the noisiest roar from our neighbours, there was dejection but then, with one swing of a boot, there was Cisse. My word there was Cisse... And then there was hope.