So much for my pre-match optimism, but then this is a different club from last year and at least now we're one that does United no favours whatsoever.
Right now matters off the pitch are holding more interest than those on, but at least it's for all the right reasons.
News that Thaksin's men are after Ronaldinho, if true, shows that Thaksin is more ambitious than previously thought. Sven's reaction was also interesting, telling The Times:
"I will phone the owners. It was a surprise, but if they want to package Ronaldinho for me I would accept him and be very happy." Eriksson joked about signing another high-profile Brazilian, adding: "I would be happy to take Kaka at the same time!"
This all raises a couple of interesting questions. Firstly,
should Thaksin's advisors be focusing their attentions on players that are highly unlikely to sign? In December the Daily Star reported that 'a close associate' of Thaksin was in talks with one of Javier Mascherano's representatives over a £17m move. Clearly there's a danger that we're just being used by agents to get better deals for their players elsewhere, but I suppose right now we're just going to have to wait and see.
The other question is how long Thaksin would stick with Sven if results don't improve. If our owner is following advice on transfer targets from people outside the club and not informing Sven, and given the apparent level of his ambitions, you do wonder at what point he would consider bringing in a bigger 'name' as manager.
~ The wait for the updated Fair Play table continues (the current one claims to include matches up to Apr 5 but is actually the same table as last month), but after looking at the number of cards handed out since March I'm expecting us to have risen up the table when it is finally published.
~ Plenty of discussion about Dunne's own-goal record after the match. I can't find any site that lists own-goals, but after looking through Soccerbase I've found that Dunne has now conceded five own-goals at City in league and Cup games, compared to the six he's scored at the right end. For the record, his own-goals before Saturday are: v Bradford (16-12-01), v United (13-2-15), v W Brom (28-12-04)and v Wigan (21-10-06.
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Pictures from rtfract, Getty Images
~ Latest Premiership table.
Ratings come from (in order): Manchester Evening News; King Kev, Blue2, irblinx, MaineRoadMemories, Grob, xavi6, Piccsnumberoneblue, SirElano, sandman (Mancityfans), Richard Tucker (rtfract.com), Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph Opta, Sky, Sky Your Rating and the BBC.
Hart: 7.2 average (MOTM)
(7, 6,7,8, 8, 6, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7.5,8, 5, 8, 6.0, 7.0)
(6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 7, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5.0,5.9)
(6, 5, 4, 6, 5, 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 7, 5.0, 5.3)
Onuoha (Jihai 59): 6.7
(7, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 5.4, 6.3)
(6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 8, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, 6, 4.7, 5.4)
Ireland (Caicedo 75): 5.4
(6, 3, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 5.5, 5.8)
Gelson Fernandes: 6.5
(5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 5.3, 6.1)
(6, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 8, 6, 7, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 5.6, 6.2)
(7, 6, 7, 7, 5, 8, 8, 5, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 6.3, 6.8)
Elano (Vassell 65): 5.1
(5, 5, 4, 6, 4, 4, 5, 4, 6, 6, 6, 5, 4,6, 5.4, 5.6)
(5, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6.5, 5, 6, 7, 4.9, 5.9)
Sun Jihai (Onuoha 59): 5.4
(5, - , - , 6, - , 6, 6, 5, - , 6, 5, 5, 5, 6, 4.4, 4.8)
Vassell (Elano 65): 5.0
(5, - , - , 5, - , 5, 6, 5, - , 5, 5, 4, 6, 4.4, 4.9)
Caicedo(Ireland 75): 4.7
(5, - , - , 3, - , 5, 5, 4, - , 6, - , 4, 6, 4.1, 5.1)
Subs not used:
Chelsea: Cudicini, Belletti (Ferreira 86), Alex, Terry, A Cole, Essien, Obi, Lampard, Wright-Phillips (J Cole 52), Anelka, Kalou. Subs not used: Hilario, Shevchenko, Ballack
The usual match stats have been cancelled this week due to lack of interest, so I'll again direct you to the Daily Telegraph (the interactive graphic is located at the bottom of the page). You can also find match details at the BBC, Sky and Setanta.
Also worth a view is the excellent Nerdic Indicator over at Wookies Lair.
City 0 Chelsea 2
City Dunne and dusted by Chelsea (Guy Hodgson)
This was a stroll on a cool but sunny afternoon for Avram Grant's team against a City side who have won one match in their last seven and who, apart from a 15-minute spell before half-time, looked like they cannot wait for the season to end. Slow, sloppy and dull, just about the only imagination anyone with Sky Blue affiliation showed came from the announcer on the public address system, who billed the start of the second half as "the push for Europe". Push for mid-table mediocrity more like.
Unloved, unremarked, Grant assembles title form (Daniel Taylor)
Strange clubs, Manchester City and Chelsea. Since the turn of the year City have been in near-relegation form, yet their fans were still belting out Sven-Goran Eriksson's name on Saturday. And then there is Chelsea, perhaps the only club on the planet where the team win 80% of matches and the supporters refuse to sing the manager's name as a point of principle.
Perhaps a cry of "there's only one Avram Grant" will carry through the air at Stamford Bridge on April 26 if Chelsea beat Manchester United when the Premier League's top two clubs renew acquaintances. Or maybe it will not. Grant, after all, could never be described as debonair. He does not wear Prada suits or suede loafers. His press conferences can be fist-eatingly boring and he is not dedicated to the idea of being permanently extraordinary. He is not, in other words, Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea refuse to give up on Premier League (Derick Allsop)
Richard Dunne, City's generally dependable captain and central defender, contributed to Chelsea's title mission with an own-goal and inadvertent collaboration in the creation of the second, scored by Salomon Kalou.
City had their moments, particularly during a 15-minute period of the first half, yet ultimately had their goalkeeper, Joe Hart, to thank for averting a more substantial defeat.
Chelsea stay in hunt as Kalou hits target (Jamie Jackson)
By the 75th minute, the atmosphere in the City of Manchester Stadium - hardly lively at the best of times - had become soporific. Eriksson had also used up his attacking options by introducing Felipe Caicedo for Ireland, having earlier switched Darius Vassell for Elano.
It all made little difference, though. Eriksson's next programme notes should contain more despair at a season now dying, while Grant and his team might still snatch the title.
Winning is Avram Grant’s way to fight his critics (James Ducker)
Eriksson’s misery was compounded after Nedum Onuoha, the defender, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder and possible fractured wrist.
City’s hope of a route into Europe would appear to be through the Inter-toto Cup or the Uefa Fair Play League, but a top-ten finish would be an achievement, given that Eriksson has fashioned a team out of a group of strangers in such a short space of time