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Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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“It’s nearly time for Saturday Night Fever” – Ian Cheeseman

Manchester City were handed a golden opportunity on Sunday, and from my point of view, it was one I didn’t expect, but this time they have to take full advantage.

I was on my way to Selhurst Park before 8am, but as I picked up my commentary side-kick Fred Eyre, I think it’s fair to say that we made the long drive down to London, and half way around the M25, fearing that the title race was destined to go to Liverpool. I got back home at just before 1am and I can tell you the chatter on the return journey was much more positive, despite the tiredness of the long day.

There has been a “boy band” style hype surrounding the progress of the Merseysiders, with Steven Gerrard surfing along on top of the seemingly unstoppable tidal wave. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy into this “it’s the only medal he’s never won” emotion.

At his peak, there’s no doubt that Gerrard was a truly great English midfielder, but I don’t know him personally, so that’s all I can judge him on. The iconic status he seems to have with Liverpool fans and many in the media is not held by me, and just being a very good player doesn’t mean you “deserve” to complete your medal collection; in fact it was his mistake that handed the title initiative back to City.

I admired Gerrard’s decision to stay at Liverpool when Chelsea came calling.

The other reason for the national will for Liverpool to win the league has been the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and of course I have sympathy for those who died, those who lost loved ones and those who survived that day and still live with those painful memories. I personally know a survivor and I’ve heard him speak about that day, and I can’t deny that I cried. No one should have to deal with something like that.

The title race, from City’s perspective, should simply be a desire to win the highest domestic honour in the game, simples, to use the word of a meerkat!

Liverpool have played some great football this season, but so have City. Both teams have scored lots of goals and have believed in attacking football, and both clubs should be applauded for that.

Last Sunday, Liverpool were beaten at home by Chelsea, a much weakened Chelsea team, to hand the initiative back to City. Football isn’t about sentiment, it’s about being better than the other clubs and winning more games, scoring more goals, and conceding less than your opponents.

If City win at Everton on Saturday evening (Liverpool Drew 3-3 there earlier in the season) and then beat Aston Villa at home (Liverpool Drew 2-2 in their home game with Villa) and beat West Ham, just as they did, then City will deserve to win the title. But if the Blues waste this chance, and I reckon this really is the last chance City will get this season, then maybe they don’t deserve to be Champions and Liverpool will fulfil the hype and seemingly please the neutrals.

At Palace, City stepped up to brush aside their opponents, thanks again to a majestic performance from Yaya Toure, just as he did at Newcastle two years ago. He was by no means the only one to find that extra gear, which is of course what’s now needed at Goodison and in the two remaining home games.

Can City do it, having been handed this final chance? Of course they can. Will they win at Goodison Park? Well if we knew the answer to that there would be no point in me going there and commentating would there!

I said in my last blog that the modern prioritising of games had taken away that feeling of excitement in my stomach, but I can tell you that the butterflies came fluttering back as soon as Chelsea’s second went in at Anfield!

I can imagine how City fans will be feeling on Saturday evening.

You can hear my emotions and those of Fred Eyre by listening to BBC Radio Manchester on 95.1FM or DAB or , if you’re outside Greater Manchester, via City’s match day centre on their website, it promises to be the defining moment in this season’s title race.

– Ian Cheeseman

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