United moved six points clear of City on Sunday, but for many Reds, victory in the 164th Manchester derby meant so much more than a title-race advantage.
Pride had been dented as a result of last season’s losses to Roberto Mancini’s men and the now-infamous title dethronement on the campaign’s final day, but thankfully, following a long and patient wait, normal service has resumed in the nation’s football capital.
Of course, a single win does not compensate for events of recent history, but for the fan on the street, a win in the derby is of behemoth proportions and outweighs the relevance of gaining another three points. To put it simply, short-term superiority has been reclaimed.
Prior to kick-off, lots of supporters, including myself, agreed an imaginary deal that would see us “take a draw” if it were offered, an arrangement that was perhaps influenced by a feeling of pessimism and a realist mindset forged by the outcome of last term.
A point at the Etihad Stadium, where City hadn't lost in the league since December 2010, would've been a decent result, although victory and the eventual destruction of that unbeaten record was unexpectedly perfect for everyone involved with United.
“We've waited a long time for this to happen and I'm sure everybody at the club, all the fans... we know how much it means to them and we're delighted,” Wayne Rooney explained after the match. “They've had a great record here and to spoil that is a great feeling.”
Robin van Persie’s winner, a deflected free-kick struck in the first minute of added time, produced a moment of unadulterated elation that will live long in the memory, prompting scenes of delirious joy for fans all around Manchester and the world.
Ugly scenes that followed van Persie’s winner almost soured the result after Rio Ferdinand was struck above