Published on May 8th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman0
When he starts running nobody can stop him, he’s just an animal, unbelievable
Once it gets to this stage of the season, normality goes out of the window. Even before City played Aston Villa, Chelsea had drawn 0-0 with all-but relegated Norwich, and then Liverpool threw away a three goal lead, eventually hanging on for a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace, who just a few weeks ago looked certain to be relegated.
Once again, if you didn’t already know, psychology became as important as quality of players and tactics. Liverpool’s draw, which ultimately might not affect the outcome of the title race, was due to over confidence, as the Merseysiders (and many outside commentators) believed the game was merely about how many Steven Gerrard’s men would score, to reduce the goal difference advantage City had.
They got carried away and paid the penalty.
City’s approach to the game against Aston Villa was to try to play “normally”, and it worked, resulting in a comfortable 4-0 win. Don’t get me wrong, the players and manager might have been calm and collected but those watching from the sidelines, including me, could feel the tension building, the longer the match went on. It felt anything but normal as a spectator.
I’d arrived at the Stadium a little earlier than normal, but apart from that MY routine was just as it always is, same lucky shirt etc
As it got closer to kick-off I could sense the differences in the crowd, among the press (more there than normal) and the club staff. This definitely wasn’t a “normal match day”.
Earlier, I’d popped down to “Rose’s Room”, which is effectively the press room for the photographers, where Rose makes scones, sandwiches and hot drinks for the hardworking snappers. She used to have her own room at Maine Road too, she’s a peroxide beehived blond heroine. I filmed a short video, which is there for all to see on the Blue Tuesday Facebook page. It’s only a minute long, go and have a look at it!
I don’t often go to Rose’s room, but we at BBC Radio Manchester have been trying to build the excitement of City’s title run in. I’ve also been collecting the goodwill messages of former players like Paul Lake, Tony Book and Clive Allen, which are being played regularly on 95.1FM as the hours count down to Sunday’s grand finale.
The game was as normal as any has been this season. Patient, passing football, full of skill and invention, as the Blues tried to unlock Villa’s determined defending. Toure and Nasri both went close, but they were proving stubborn “bus parkers”.
I popped down to the press room for a cuppa at halftime and picked up some food, though I took only one bite and left the rest, very unlike me!
The huge relief of tension eventually came as Silva and Zabaleta set up Edin Dzeko to sweep City into the lead. The crowd let out all that held-in frustration and furrowed brows and chin scratching were suddenly replaced by broad smiles.
I was fully aware that City started the game on 96 Premier League goals for the season, so at 3-0, I knew the potential significance as Yaya Toure took possession, inside City’s half, with seconds remaining.
Honestly, hand on heart, as he crossed the halfway line with five Villa players (not including the keeper) trying to stop him, I KNEW he would score. I remember an Eyal Berkovic goal at Maine Road, against Norwich, which started with a long run towards goal, another of my favourites. Just like then, my voice built to a crescendo, as Yaya closed in on the finish. What an amazing goal by a truly awesome player. Lots of fans heard my commentary, most as they travelled home, and I can only thank everyone for their kind words. I try my best and always speak with honestly and integrity. As I’ve said, and written on many occasions, I am very lucky to have what I consider to be the Best Job in the World!
Yaya Toure was my player of the season in 2012, and is fast becoming my all time favourite City player (I hope Colin Bell isn’t reading this – though he’ll always be my boyhood hero!)
After the game I asked Pablo Zabaleta what he thought of the goal, “He is so fast, very strong when he starts running, nobody can stop him. He’s just an animal, unbelievable”. I think that’s a fair summing up.
One game to go, all to play for, but the job has not yet been completed. This group of players seems determined to see it through, and who would even have the slightest doubt that they will?
Well any City fan over twenty, will always have doubts, that’s a legacy of past failings, but another win on Sunday will be another step on the road to the collective recovery from “post traumatic stress syndrome” as suffered by long standing Blues.
Naturally you’ll hear continued build-up of City’s title challenge on BBC Radio Manchester, full match commentary with me and Shaun Goater (I’ve warned him he can’t leap into the air like Nigel Gleghorn did, and take us off air if and when City score!) and then all the reaction afterwards, plus the last Blue Tuesday of the season, next week, whether it’s triumph or heartbreak, at 6pm.
Whatever happens, it’s been a great season and all that tension ends this coming weekend, so enjoy the drama!
I’m sure the Toure goal will be played out during Blue Tuesday next week, so listen live if you can, and that way you WILL hear it!
If you want to check out Ian’s commentary of the four goals, including the much requested Yaya Toure goal, be sure to follow this link to the BBC website and skip to 9 minutes in!
*Please note: This link will only be operational for 7 days*
– Ian Cheeseman