The ninth of November,
The year 2002
Though not a great season
Days like this the reason
It is always great being a Blue!
Manchester City, under the guidance of Kevin Keegan, had just found themselves promoted from Division One back to the Premiership and all the challenges that throws up. Up to this point in the season City had played twelve games and were fourteenth.
Even this position had only recently been improved after away wins against West Brom and Birmingham in the two games prior to the last Maine Road derby game. Before those two games City were only a point away from the bottom two clubs after having played more games and so taking on a high flying United was not what you would have thought City would need right at that point.
We had already played all three of the other 'Big Four' and only scored the single goal while conceeding eight! However derby day is a totally different proposition. That said, we had only won 2pts against United, either home or away, since the Premiership began in 1992. The last point we got against United on our own ground? March 1993, so now you start to realise that almost a decade on how dramatic this result was.
Kevin Keegan started with ex United goalkeeper Peter Schmiechel in goal for City and the player United released after taking him on trial in 1987, Shaun Goater up front.
Other players of note were Lucien Mettomo, who would leave City shortly after this game and of course the greatest City player we never signed, Marc Vivian Foe. Foe as we all know died at the end of the season while playing for his country.
City, having only loaned the player were in talks to make the deal permanent before his death. His squad number was retired by City and a tribute plaque can be found at the Etihad Stadium.
The City boss didn't have good news leading up to the game with defenders Howey and Distin pulling out, meaning he was literally down to the bare bones as far as defensive options were concerned. For United, Beckham was out and Gary Neville took the armband. Mr Neville, obviously the other great City player we never signed!
City kicked off but it was United who had all the pressure until Ferdinand was given a bad back pass from Phil Neville which Anelka won and charged toward the goal. He played it wide to Goater whose shot Barthez could only parry right back to Anelka. At that range Le Sulk wasn't going to miss. City were 1-0 up and less than five minutes were on the clock.
From that moment on it was all City and even Sun Jihai was playing well! Although City were instantly back when a Giggs pass found Solskjaer who scored. The equaliser seemed to rock Citys confidence as they chased shadows. Berkovic gave away loose balls and only Schmiechel playing above and beyond.
Then, thankfully Neville handed us back the lead.
Goater mugged him on the goaline and drove in just before the half an hour to restore City's lead. Soon after Goater hooked a ball over to Anelka who finding himself one on one with Bartez, failed to pick a side and hit it directly at his countryman.
Half Time 2-1
Every question United had, City had an answer. When United lost the ball in their own half quick passing saw Jensen pass to Berkovic who flicked it onto Goater, who unlike Anelka in the first half made Barthez go down before lifting it over him to score City's third, his brace for the day but more importantly a vital win over United and Goaters 100th City goal!
Of the starting eleven that day, more than half would leave come seasons end. However, we will always have our memories!