Manchester City came roaring back into Premier League title contention with a gutsy 2-0 win on a day that few could have imagined would ever dawn.
Not only did City start to bridge the yawning points chasm between themselves and Chelsea, they, like the rest of the football world, were rendered gobsmacked by five words from the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ when Jose muttered: ‘I prefer not to speak!’
Well just about every sky blue wearing man, woman, child and family pet would endorse Maureen on that one, so please shut the wotsit up!
Of course it won’t last but the silence is golden as the snide sneer from Setubal sulks following Chelsea’s red sky at night shock defeat at Villa Park.
Blue was most definitely the colour at the start of yesterday as City kicked off the lunchtime fixture at Hull City, to be followed by Chelsea in the early evening match away to Aston Villa.
How ironic then that red should figure so prominently in the fortunes – or misfortunes – of the blue protagonists vying for the crown of Champions of England.
With just nine minutes and 36 seconds played at the KC stadium, City’s already calamitous week was plunged into greater turmoil when Captain Fantastic Vincent Kompany was sent off.
As the lamentable Lee Mason – one of the Premier League’s most inept referees – flashed red at the Belgian Boulder, few could have envisaged that this was to be a day of redemption for some of City’s most maligned players and a day of Manchester merriment.
True, Kompany was the last defender when he bundled Nikica Jelavic to the ground, but City’s skipper had himself been fouled seconds before he turned from victim to perpetrator.
Of course, moronic Mason missed, or chose not to see that element, and City were down to 10 men with 10 minutes gone.
The ensuing 85 minutes may yet define City’s season, with a David Silva masterclass showing why he must be a contender for Footballer of the Year and not just City’s Player of the Year.
Silva was sublime, virtually unplayable and his virtuoso performance was ably backed by his team mates as they handsomely overcame their one-man handicap.
The Spanish wizard blunted Hull’s hunger for the fight with a superb strike, four minutes after Kompany’s unseemly departure.
Well crafted build up play involving Zabaleta and stand-in skipper Yaya Toure, saw the ball shift to Silva who set himself from 25 yards to curl home a simply gorgeous goal.
His celebration – one of conviction and defiance – set the tone for his team mates. This was not going to be the day that City would let their chance of a third major trophy slip away.
Manuel Pellegrini stayed calm and didn’t rush to rash substitutions as Javi Garcia dropped into central defence with Martin Demichelis. Normally such a pairing would have given City fans panic attacks and palpitations.
Not so on this occasion, as they combined with the indefatigable Zabaleta and a willing Clichy to keep Hull at bay.
Demichelis – nicknamed Demichaos due to his haphazard performances – seemed to grow in stature and assume command of the backline, once Kompany had gone.
It was as if the veteran Argentine had rediscovered his undoubted skills and confidence of his heyday. Whatever it was, the man with the distinctive hairstyle was no longer ‘pony & trap’.
Garcia had set out on his personal road to redemption a few weeks ago, winning over the doubting City fans with some stirring displays as a no nonsense holding midfielder.
Thrust into the problematic emergency centre back role, his new found confidence served him and the team admirably.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, City took the game to the home side and Zaba was centimetres away from his first City goal since January 2013.
The marauding right back crashed a 20 yard thunderbolt off the underside of the bar, only to see it bounce agonisingly on the line with McGregor beaten all ends up.
Alas, Hawkeye did its job and it remained 1-0.
It should have been 10 (no, not that song!) against 10, when Hull’s Egyptian midfielder Elmohamady assaulted Silva with a vicious studs-up ‘leg breaker’ of a challenge.
Outrageously, muppet Mason showed him a yellow card and not red.
With City settled into a stoical defensive formation and looking dangerous on the counter attack, it was Hull’s inability to spring the sky blues’ well drilled offside trap which was their undoing.
Time after time Jelavic, Long, Meyler, Livermore & Co were left stranded, often at the same time.
Lively home substitute, George Boyd, came the closest to success only to produce two shameful episodes that bear closer post match scrutiny.
The cheating Scottish international produced a blatant dive for a penalty attempt, provoking a furious reaction from Joe Hart. An incensed Joe, squared up to the idiotic bandanna wearing Boyd and the scutty Scot appeared to spit at the England keeper.
Mason surpassed himself once again…booking Hart and Boyd walked away unpunished, but hopefully his name tarnished and reputation sullied.
Some astute City substitutions, Navas for Nasri, Lescott for Yaya and in the dying seconds, Kolarov for Silva helped preserve the win.
Silva’s last contribution was an exquisitely weighted through ball in the 90th minute allowing Edin Dzeko to slam the ball home to seal the victory.
Moments earlier, the Bosnian striker had fluffed his lines with a heavy first touch and a poor shot at goal when set clear, but on this day of redemption, he notched his 18th goal of the season.
What had looked like a nightmare had been transformed into a dream 2-0 win and, if the lunchtime offering wasn’t satisfying enough, the early evening menu was sensational.
Aston Villa’s unexpected win 1-0 win over Chelsea means City are now just six points behind but with three games in hand. Willian and Ramires were shown red cards, the latter for horrendous violent play, and motormouth Mourinho was also sent to the stand.
The prospect of Pellegrini winning the Premier League in his debut season and seeing off his nauseating nemesis Maureen, are so much brighter today after an arduous week of double disappointment.
City are 990 minutes away from their greatest ever season, and with no cup competition distractions the woes of Wigan and Barcelona could yet turn into blessings, albeit heavily disguised blessings.
By David Walker