Sir Alex Ferguson’s dreams of signing off his career with an improbable treble are in tatters after cross-city rivals Manchester City put pay to any hopes of this at Wembley on Saturday afternoon. Yaya Toure’s goal was all City needed, as the clash got ugly in the later stages and will be remembered for one particular “winker”.
Not one to shirk a bit of controversy, 20-year-old City striker Mario Balotelli riled Rio Ferdinand so much that he used Twitter to get back at him. Nothing like becoming a keyboard warrior, eh Rio. Gone are the days when you sort it out on the pitch ala Francis Lee and Norman Hunter obviously. You have to admire Balotelli though. Only he would think it appropriate to feverishly celebrate in front of the United fans after reaching the FA Cup Final.
Balotelli then emulated ex-United star Cristiano Ronaldo with a cheeky wink and Ferdinand went ape shit culminating in a “Twirant” of abuse being hurled at Super Mario. All that need happen now is the Italian to discover Twitter and get into a slagging match with the former England captain. If his past infractions are anything to go by, inate ramblings of the Balotelli kind would be the stuff of legend.
The game also saw Paul Scholes re-enacting scenes reminiscent of when a certain Roy Keane was their captain and quite rightly saw his marching orders. You couldn’t really expect Scholes to not be suspended should they reach the final. He’s more famous for that than Ronaldo is for pouting and preening.
City’s opponent in the final is a side who would shake the UEFA Europa League to its core should they manage to make the second rate European competition. Stoke City’s 5-0 demolition of Bolton on Sunday afternoon mean that Rory Delap, aka the DELAPidator, and chums have the chance to play European football next term.
Tony Pulis’ side came into the game as the unfashionable underdogs and were 3-0 up inside the first half hour as Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth, and Kenwyne Jones put them ahead. Two second half Jon Walters’ goals added gloss to the scoreline that few of the 75,000-odd in attendance could have predicted.
If nothing else, it gives us a chance for someone outside of the traditional top four to win the trophy and you can imagine it will mean more to the supporters of these two teams than any of the league’s biggest clubs. So whether it’s the tones of Delilah or Blue Moon that are ringing out come the final whistle you can be rest assured that either will be a worthy winner.