Peaks and Valleys

The image of Pep Guardiola sinking to his knees, head in hands as Manchester City exited the Champions League said it all.

The feelings of devastation, anguish and hurt were visible to all. This moment of deflation abruptly marked the end of Manchester City’s quadruple quest.

The Champions League – and winning it- is Guardiola’s reason for being at the Etihad. This makes their defeat all the harder to swallow.

Prior to their tie against Tottenham, City’s quadruple dream looked realistic. The team possessed the depth and raw talent to pull it off. The Big M - momentum - was in their favour.

No-one could argue that 183 points from the last 71 league games is anything but a magnificent total.

But anyone who plays sport understands that momentum is an indefinable object that swings in an instant.

Take Manchester United. They were toothless under Jose Mourinho in the first half of the season, but the tide turned when Ole Gunnar Solksjaer walked through the door.

Freed from Mourinho’s safety-first shackles, they roared away in the time-honoured attack, attack, attack United style.

For a dozen matches or so it seemed Ole’s magic wand had done its job and, almost by popular demand, his temporary position became permanent.

Then the music died. The peaks became a valley and United are back in those not playing for the badge doldrums.

Their slump reached its nadir with an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Everton and tonight they face the noisy neighbours – City.

Can Solksjaer’s troops muster enough desire to finish their roller-coaster season with a flourish?

Derbies are a law unto themselves – this match will be won with the heart and head. There is more at stake than three points.

For once Liverpool fans will be with United, dreaming of another stoppage time winner. The outcome is crucial.

Watching Liverpool and City tussle for the title is like seeing a tightly fought tennis match unfold in slow motion over a number of months. Agonising! Both teams have kept the rally going, but sooner or later a mistake will be made.

At the moment the battle is still on!