|The iconic skyline of Manchester, Great Britain.|
Bear with me for, let's hope, one or two paragraphs of junk that just need to expose from my system and then we can talk about the 2011-12 Premier League deciding match on Monday between Manchester City and Manchester United.
Maybe this is a pot-kettle-black scenario, but with media in 2012 ... there's so much stuff written and said and blogged and tweeted and tumbled and facebooked and instagrammed and whatever that it gets to be overwhelming. Over-saturation might not the be the right word for it, but everyone with a smart phone now can have as much of an opinion on an event as anyone else.
Probably multiply that my 672 times for the Manchester title-deciding derby,
In theory, with sports at least, this is all one big "sports bar" where everyone can experience something in real life and interject opinions.
Who's worth listening to? Who isn't? Who can scream the loudest?
Every thing is me-first, or the Bill Simmons-ing of journalism. Few people want to actually grind out quality journalism when it's simply easier to make pithy comment hit send and call it a day (yeah, I know).
Hey, it is what is.
So for the people that still come to this little segment of the Internet for some soccer opinion when there are millions of other places with slicker layouts for better graphics or more content, I sincerely thank you.
That's all I really got -- my opinion.
And my opinion of the Manchester Derby?
For whatever the reason, despite their New York Yankees of England-like persona, Manchester United has never truly bothered me as much as some other clubs, namely Chelsea. Yeah, burn me at the stake as I know this is truly heresy since Sir Alex Ferguson is the devil incarnate, but eh, whatever.
There's sort of a life, death and Old Trafford feel, at least to me. Maybe it's because Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are still playing, but United winning (again and again) feels like normalcy.
In the equation for Monday's game at the Eithad, United probably wears the proverbial black hat, although it's not like City are that much more appealing to a neutral.
I do, indeed, have respect for the hardcore City fans who've lived their entire lives in the shadow of the great big dastardly Red Devil. Given the choice for a perennial winner and a perennial also ran, it takes guts to root for City. Plus their home stadium always plays some excellent Brit-Pop picks at halftime, which countsin my book.
The current City set up, with all its Arabian oil money?
Certainly less lovable.
Take away the out-and-out insanity of Mario Balotelli and the petulance of Carlos Tevez, what's left? A very bland group. A talent group, but bland.
How the game plays out Monday night? City is certainly the "in-form" team, rediscovering its scoring touch thanks to Tevez and Kun Aguero making sweet, sweet music with David Silva once again. The key man for City, as usual, is Yaya Toure since United don't really have a guy in their team to run with him if he darts forward, plus his size sitting back in front of the defense probably bumps Wayne Rooney out of his favorite place to be -- other than on the couch watching a Pixax film with his son Kai. Zing!
You probably can't write anything about this game without the old cliches about a "changing of the guard" in England, should City win. Or if United win the entire post game will be about Sir Alex's undying commitment to winning and how it's in the Red Devils DNA.
Sure, those are a fun to churn out and chew over.
This game, however, hard to see the pedigrees of either team factoring in all that much.
It's difficult to see United winning, too, unless Rooney pulls another bicycle kick out of his bag of tricks, or if Antonio Valencia and Nani are completely unplayable on the outside.
More than that, after leaking four goals last weekend to Everton, how is United going to keep City off the scoresheet? Maybe David De Gea stands on his Spanish head and gets the last laugh after all the jokes at the beginning of the season.
Whatever happens, we can all jib-jab about it in real-time on Monday.
Leave it to the Brit journos to make the overreaching declarative statements.
* Everton v. Fulham -- Really wish that, "I don't think you're ready for this Jelly-vic" via Beyonce would become a "thing" at Goodison Park. Classic David Moyes player. Hard-worked, blue-collar, probably drinks milk at least twice a day, says prayers to all the patron saints of Croatia and such. Nice to see Clint Dempsey get some respect from the English writers, at least. Fulham could finish top half of the table and it's mainly because of him, no bias in that statement. ... Everton 1, Fulham 1
* Swansea City v. Wolves -- Part of Swansea's success this year is that they play a "different" brand of soccer than anyone else in the league. The question, going forward, how when players begin to move on or new faces are brought in, do they keep that identity? Another goal-scorer beyond Danny Graham who can jive with Brendan Rodgers' system is a must in the summer. ... Swansea City 3, Wolves 0
* Wigan Athletic v. Newcastle United -- (Live, FSC, 10 a.m.) As my friend Jared would say, this game spicy. So spicy it would likely need to be contained in the "Fire" sauce packet at your local Taco Bell. ... Wigan 1, Newcastle United 2
* Stoke City v. Arsenal -- (Live, ESPN2, 10 a.m.) Stoke on ESPN2 ... that's just not fair, is it? Arsenal are wheezing to the finish, but credit to Arsene and Co. With their backs against the wall (and no pressure to win anything, mind you) they found their form and ensured another year in the Champions League. Beats me how they make the leap to challenge for the title however. ... Stoke City 1, Arsenal 1
* Sunderland v. Bolton -- Bolton pretty much control their own Premier League destiny and have a game in hand still. Sunderland has nothing to play for, so Owen Coyle better cook up something to get his team to get three points here. Don't think they do it though. ... Sunderland 2, Bolton 1
* West Brom v. Aston Villa -- (Live, FSC+, 10 a.m.) Jesus, I know they wear similar colored kits, but did Aston Villa morph into West Ham over night. Dangerous times in the midlands. ... West Brom 1, Aston Villa 1
* Norwich City v. Liverpool -- (Live, FSC, 12:30 p.m.) Liverpool seems to be tanking their remaining league games. Can't wait to see Steven Gerrard pissed off he has to do a 'talking head' interview for this new reality/behind-the-scenes show that's going to go on at the club. Pretty sure whomever writes in the subtitles for it should be paid double, too. ... Norwich City 2, Liverpool 0
* Chelsea v. QPR -- (Live, FSC, 8:30 a.m.) No handshakes in this game. Thank God for that. Really. Thank you. ... Chelsea 2, QPR 1
* Tottenham v. Blackburn Rovers -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) If Tottenham can't find a way to beat a Blackburn team that appears to have finally thrown in the towel at White Hart Lane no less ... Wait let's not answer that. ... Tottenham 1, Blackburn 0
* Manchester City v. Manchester United -- (Live, ESPN, 3 p.m.) Everything points to a City rout here, but something tells me Ferguson gets his team to gut out a result. ... City 2, United 2
Last round: 4-6