Alright, City losing at Anfield in the Champions League was always on the cards in a two-legged tie.
But the scale of the defeat against a Liverpool team who simply wanted it more was hard to stomach.
It was a 3-0 romp for the Merseyside Reds who crucially prevented Pep Guardiola’s getting an away goal that would have made Tuesday’s quarter-final second leg at the Etihad much more interesting.
I’d resigned myself to Guardiola – the supreme professional that he is – putting out a second string team against United tonight, despite knowing a victory would be brilliant for the fans against their greatest rivals, because like football fans everywhere I fully expected the Champions League last eight tie which is the holy grail for the club’s hierarchy to be still alive..
But the fact is like any other league game only three points are at up for grabs albeit three that would secure the title. So that leaves Guardiola with a huge dilemma. He’s on record as saying City can get past Liverpool on Tuesday to join the other likely suspects Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the semis so does he stick with his original plan and rest key players or play a full-strength team to give the whole club a boost before Tuesday?
The Premier League title is in the bag of course and that’s why I paid out at a cost of almost a million on City being champions before Christmas but Guardiola will not want to go into Tuesday’s game on the back of two defeats and a European knock-out from Liverpool before a trip to Tottenham next Saturday tea time.
City have drifted to 4/5 at Betfred to beat United after the Anfield horror show while in-form Raheem Sterling, who should have started against Liverpool on Wednesday, is 7/2 to score first. For United, they are 11/4 to win with 12/5 for the draw while we have Romelu Lukaku at 6/1 to open the scoring. The most popular scoreline bet is 3-1 to the Blues which is an attractive 14/1.
Guardiola should understand that even with two trophies, going out of the Champions League and losing this crucial milestone derby could be something of an anti-climax for many Blues as the season promised even more. So my plea to him is to recognise the importance of local bragging rights and play your best 11.
For Jose Mourinho how he’d love to add to City’s misery with a repeat of the Liverpool treatment. Being such a devoted Red I’m hoping that’s a possibility. Sadly I can’t see it and whatever City team is put out they will be absolutely desperate to put on a show to cheer their supporters up. All eyes will be on Alexis Sanchez who looked destined to join City but ended up one of us. Well, we’re still waiting for a match-winning performance – and if you think that will be tonight he’s 3/1 to score anytime.