by Ifreke Inyang
After 90 minutes, the giant electronic scoreboard at Old Trafford read 6-1. And you can be forgiven for thinking that it was yet another outstanding display of attacking football by the home side, Manchester United. It wasn’t. It’s not as if Wayne Rooney and co are no longer capable of such. It is just that the hammering this time around was led by Balotelli. Yes, the same erratic Balotelli.
For all his annoying behavior on the pitch and off it as well, Mario Balotelli is one ridiculously talented footballer. Often making the headlines for the wrong reasons, he chose the biggest stage to grab the right headlines. As the pass from James Milner arrived from the right, ‘Balo’ already knew what he would do with the ball. And he delivered it in sublime fashion. A day after his friends set off fireworks in his apartment, he was lighting up Old Trafford with the skill and movement that persuaded City to splash 24 million pounds on him. His clever off-the-ball movement drew a foul from Jonny Evans, who eventually saw red. In a couple of minutes, Balo arrived at the far post and turned in a cross to double his side’s advantage. His clever back heel set up yet another delightful move that resulted in Sergio Aguero converting from close range. City went on to blast three more past a helpless David de Gea.
“It’s the worst result in my history, ever,” Sir Alex Ferguson said. “Even as a player I don’t think I ever lost 6-1. I can’t believe the scoreline. It was our worst ever day.”
It even goes back a longer time for United. They have never lost by such a margin to their rivals since 1926 or to any other side for that matter since 1930. The closest score line before yesterday’s was in 1989 at Maine Road, when City defeated United 5-1. Ferguson returns to the band of insomniacs again. And he joins a certain Arsene Wenger who joined the league after a 8-2 by his own (Ferguson’s) team.
Wenger had words for sympathy for his friend. “It’s a surprise,” he said. ‘But France nearly beat New Zealand in the rugby and that was a surprise. Like when we lost 8-2, the big scores have no special meaning, it only means something special happened in the game.
“When you are in a position where you have to attack with 10 men against a good side you are vulnerable. It’s not that you lost three points, but the emotional aspect of a result like that remains in your head.”
For City, they do look a special side that would need a serious slump in form to be pushed off the top of the table. For United, it remains to be seen how long this result stays in their head.