Why Manchester United could lose the title race to Manchester City

Defeat to Manchester City saw gap at top of the table close to 12 points

Speaking ahead of last night's Manchester derby, Wayne Rooney offered a warning: “One bad game and everything could fall.”

The defeat at Old Trafford meant that reigning champions Manchester City moved to within 12 points of United and ensured securing the title will not be as easy as it could have been for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

But is it possible that United could lose their grip on the title all together and witness City lift the trophy for the second season running? We take a look at the reasons why a turn-around is still possible, and imagine how it might happen...

 

Reasons why United could let the title slip away

A win last night would have left United needing just four points from their remaining seven games. However, due to their defeat, they now need 10 points if City win all their remaining games.

Among those still to play in the run in are Arsenal and Chelsea - two teams vying for a top four finish and currently enjoying strong runs of form.

Stoke City and Aston Villa are also amongst those still to play. With both fighting for their lives in a relegation dog fight these fixtures could be far from straightforward.

United have let the title slip through their fingers before - including last season. When City lost to Arsenal at the beginning of April, United held an eight point advantage. Yet Ferguson's side slipped to a shock defeat at Wigan and then drew 4-4 with Everton after being 4-2 up with five minutes to play. City would win the title on goal difference thanks to Sergio Aguero's injury time winner over QPR on the last day of the season.

United also collapsed at the end of the 1997/98 season. At the beginning of March they were 11 points clear of Arsenal but a 10 game winning streak, including one over United themselves, saw Arsene Wenger's side take the title by one point.

Roberto Mancini has been busy conceding the title - even after last night's victory claiming: "This year we did some mistakes but we can do nothing now. The season is gone." Yet the Italian said similar things at this stage last year, even suggesting United were favourites to win the title after City beat them 1-0 to go top of the league with two games to play.

 

How the title could slip through United's fingers...

APRIL 14 - Stoke v Man Utd. United have a good record at the Britannia but were held to a draw in the corresponding fixture last year. Against opposition like this, the Stoke fans will finally get behind their team and help them earn a share of the spoils. UNITED 78 PTS. CITY 65.

APRIL 17 - Man City v Wigan, West Ham v Man Utd. Against opponents not as equipped to back up from an FA Cup semi-final as they are, City cruise home. United meanwhile find it difficult to break the Hammers down and are held again, just as they were in the FA Cup earlier this season. UNITED 79 PTS. CITY 68.

APRIL 21/22 - Tottenham v Man City, Man Utd v Aston Villa. Sensing blood, City go for the jugular against a Tottenham side whose form has deserted them. Twenty-four hours after a Blues triumph, United match them at Old Trafford. UNITED 82 PTS. CITY 71.

APRIL 27/28 - Man City v West Ham, Arsenal v Man Utd. City really have the bit between their teeth now and are far too good for the Hammers, who have not been that impressive on the road. With Champions League qualification Arsenal exploit United's growing nerves and win at the Emirates. UNITED 82 PTS. CITY 74.

MAY 4 - Man Utd v Chelsea, Swansea v Man City. Disaster strikes for Ferguson as he is outwitted by old adversary Rafael Benitez at Old Trafford. With City coasting past a Swansea side whose minds have drifted towards holidays, suddenly the battle is on. UNITED 82 PTS. CITY 77.

MAY 8 (TBC) - Man City v West Brom. A game still to be rearranged from FA Cup semi-final weekend goes the way of the favourites. UNITED 82 PTS. CITY 80.

MAY 12 - Man Utd v Swansea, Reading v Man City. The nerves are taking hold now. Both clubs record victories to set up another super Sunday title epic. UNITED 85 POINTS. CITY 83.

MAY 19 - Man City v Norwich, West Brom v Man Utd. City avoid the near catastrophe of last season to cruise past Norwich, racking up a tally that tilts the goal difference in their favour. As news filters through, United are paralysed by fear, fail to get the win they need and lose out by an even more slender margin than last season. UNITED 86 POINTS. CITY 86. (CITY WIN TITLE ON GOAL DIFFERENCE).

 

Related articles...

Manchester United v Manchester City player ratings

Sir Alex Ferguson angry over James Milner's 'offside' goal for Manchester City

Roberto Mancini delighted with performance and says Manchester City 'can improve'

Manchester United stretch lead over City in the global branding league with £160m Aon training ground deal

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2 match report: Sergio Aguero ensures United are delayed on march to reclaim Premier League title

Manchester United v Manchester City: Gareth Barry belies image to seize the spotlight at Old Trafford

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine