COME­BACK IS JUST LIKE FERGIE TIME ONCE AGAIN

Glossop Advertiser - - Sports - Sa­muel Luck­hurst

SIR Alex Fer­gu­son was booed as he ap­peared on the Eti­had big screen be­fore kick-off and shifted un­easily in his leather-padded seat dur­ing an ag­o­nis­ing first half for United.

City threat­ened to in­flict a hu­mil­i­a­tion worse than the 5-1 or 6-1 and the tro­phy en­graver must have started carv­ing their name onto the Premier League crown for a third time.

True to Fer­gu­son’s mantra, United did not make it easy for them­selves. What threat­ened to be a ca­pit­u­la­tion be­came a cap­ti­vat­ing come­back dom­i­nated by the former Reds man­ager’s relics and cast-offs. It was a night which be­longed to Paul Pogba.

Fer­gu­son may have nod­ded know­ingly at Pep Guardi­ola’s Fri­day rev­e­la­tion that Pogba was of­fered to City by his agent Mino Raiola. Fer­gu­son was an­gered by Raiola dur­ing a stand-off over Pogba’s salary and Alexis Sanchez’s Jan­uary ar­rival saw the French­man’s form plum­met. The re­cov­ery be­gan against Swansea last week and re­demp­tion was at­tained at The Eti­had.

Pogba del­i­cately volleyed on 53 min­utes and chased after the ball – and a come­back. Two min­utes later, he headed po­tently past Eder­son and clutched the ball again, bal­loon­ing it into the crest­fallen blue Blues be­hind the goal.

Pogba, be­rated by Mour­inho dur­ing one first-half flash­point, reemerged pos­sessed. The derby re­demp­tion was not over.

Chris Smalling was beaten by Vin­cent Kom­pany for the opener and re­cov­ered with his own fin­ish at the same end to com­plete a re­mark­able turn­around. It was Smalling whom Kom­pany out­jumped for that de­ci­sive derby winner in 2012 and that mem­ory, branded by Fer­gu­son with his pub­lic crit­i­cism that April evening, may have partly elicited the atone­ment.

On an evening of par­al­lels, this was Maine Road 1993, when City en­joyed a 2-0 lead at half-time only to be un­done by Eric Can­tona. If Pogba was Can­tona then Smalling was match­win­ner Roy Keane. One of those com­par­isons is cred­i­ble. Amid doubts fu­elled by the ra­pa­cious Raiola, Pogba re­minded Jose Mour­inho that he was the ‘cap­tain’ mid­fielder he wanted two years ago. The arm­band may yet be his.

This was clas­sic United. A stim­u­lat­ing and stir­ring come­back that harked back to the teams of Fer­gu­son. This was the sec­ond time they have re­cov­ered from a 2-0 deficit in as many months and per­haps it is fi­nally time to get re-ac­cus­tomed with United come­backs. Hearts were in mouths at the fi­nale as David de Gea beg­gared be­lief again to deny Ser­gio Aguero and City hit the wood­work. United do not make it easy for them­selves.

Mour­inho at­tempted to draw par­al­lels with Chelsea thump­ing United to se­cure the Premier League 12 years ago and the sym­me­try seemed set to be much more painful.

The chas­ten­ing sight City sup­port­ers blow up their in­flat­able league tro­phies must have been burn­ing in Mour­inho’s mind as he skulked back to the away dress­ing room 2-0 down.

Kom­pany met Leroy Sane’s out-swinger on 25 min­utes to give City the ad­van­tage and five min­utes later Ilkay Gun­do­gan pirou­et­ted away from the lum­ber­ing Ne­manja Matic for match point. Ster­ling squan­dered pre­sentable op­por­tu­ni­ties in a half where City had nine at­tempts at goal. United had none and a piti­ful two touches in Eder­son’s area.

Pogba had two in the sec­ond, and made them count.

Chris Smalling and Paul Pogba cel­e­brate United’s third and win­ning goal

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