I’ve known some shocks during my decades as a United fan, but I must admit I didn’t see this week’s exit from the Champions League coming.
Never did I expect to be pricing up both Manchester clubs for the Europa League, with City the new 5/1 favourites and United second in the list at 7/1.
Yes, both teams were unlucky to a degree, the Blues being drawn in the ‘group of death’ and the Reds playing well but just having everything go against them in Switzerland.
But Fergie will know his side had enough opportunities before the last game to have secured a place in the last 16 and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they were just not good enough.
Victory against Wolves on Saturday is now hugely important because, come the second week of January, retaining the Premier League may just be the only challenge that truly matters.
United are 9/4 to gain title No.20 this season and that price will drift like a dinghy in the wind if they fail to justify odds of 1/6 at Old Trafford, especially with Nemanja Vidic out for the rest of the season. I was gutted to hear about that latest huge blow.
It’s too early to call any game a title decider, but I reckon if City can win at Chelsea on Monday then it would be like clearing Becher’s Brook second time around in the Grand National with a healthy lead.
Roberto Mancini’s men have shortened to 4/7 to win the league and will have got most of the tough away games over with once they have returned from Stamford Bridge.
Despite their superb domestic form, City are not favourites for the match. They are 13/8 for three points, with Chelsea 11/8 to inflict a first league loss this term on the visitors and it’s 11/5 for a draw.
The Cockneys have found their stride with a vengeance this week thanks to back-to-back 3-0 wins and it will be interesting to see whether AVB sticks with the same players.
City will be up for this, though, to try to banish their Champions League blues and Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are both 5/1 to score the first goal, with Mario Balotelli 11/2.