In his quieter moments, Yaya Toure still watches that goal. The goal that changed everything in this city. Sliding doors, changing of the guard – whatever you want to call Manchester City’s 2011 FA Cup semi-final win, the status quo here has changed.
City had never been to the new Wembley before meeting Manchester United that day. Three years of new owners has yet to produce a trophy. United had won three of their last four titles and were on their way to another. City have lost five of their last six Premier League meetings and were eliminated by bitter rivals in the Carling Cup semi-finals a year earlier.
The blue half came to London expecting more of it. But Michael Carrick’s loose first touch had Toure sniffing. He marched on and put Edwin van der Sar through the legs, a crowning moment of his debut campaign in England. The Ivorian must account for a sizable chunk of the 1.4 million views these highlights have garnered on YouTube.
“I think those few seconds against United were like a summary of my career at City,” said Toure. “Back then we celebrated more than just winning the final against Stoke!”
Yaya Toure scored the goal in the Manchester derby that changed everything for Man City as he knocked out the rival in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final in a sliding doors moment in the city
Toure did also score against Stoke in the FA Cup final, but it was the win over their rivals that saw the side achieve greater success in subsequent seasons
Since then, City have won seven of the last 12 Premier League titles and Pep Guardiola’s side are also aiming for a famous win over their rivals in the FA Cup final this weekend
“It was a sign of the change that was taking place. There was a big celebration. The executives were on the train with us, they came to the dressing room to share our joy. They had the feeling: “Now the time has come, Man City is about to change.”
“Everyone in the whole town was starting to get it. I remember when I went to the supermarket and even United fans were like, ‘Oh Yaya, guys, gosh.’ Before that, United fans were like, ‘So what have you been up to, City? Loser’, something like that. After that game we started to get more respect.”
Sir Alex Ferguson had described City as “noisy neighbours” and when asked if United would ever go into a derby as underdogs he simply said: “Not in my life.” Even the greats get it wrong every now and then and the situation has it changed so much that the idea of City going into Saturday’s final as anything but favorites would sound unthinkable.
Toure’s landing from Barcelona proved to be the catalyst, the nucleus of a move engineered by his brother and City defender Kolo. His leather-leaning left-footed winner against Stoke secured their first title in 35 years, and she and he were on the line from there. No midfielder could match him for five seasons; Few will ever come close.
“I just felt like it was really a duty,” he said. “We knew we had to win one.” They beat us up in the first half of the semifinals. The [Dimitar] Berbatov’s chance, she missed a meter from goal, was open. Joe Hart’s saves.
“I remember coming into the dressing room at half-time and saying, ‘Look, we’re too passive.’ If you want to dream of going to the final, we have to fight great and be ourselves. We respected United too much.
“Inside we were quiet for two or three minutes, I have to be honest. Patrick Vieira gave a great speech. He was very clear and said, ‘Yes, we’re going up against one of the top teams, but we don’t have to be shy.’ We knew we had to change the mentality and go for it. Because after that it will be so loud, the city.”
What Toure didn’t mention was his role around the clanking boots and coat hooks. He challenged Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong to hold and that he would win himself. And he won.
Yaya Toure (pictured in 2014) still watches his winning goal against United in 2011 in his quieter moments
The following season, Man City defeated Manchester United 6-1 in the Premier League
Sir Alex Ferguson (second left), who has described Man City as “noisy neighbours”, saw his side take the title from rivals in 2012 when Manchester changed sides
“Carrick was such a good player, so smart and able to take a lot of risks, similar to.” [Sergio] “Busquets,” Toure added. “As I lunged at him, I knew he didn’t see me coming.”
An in-game ambush led to a far larger heist over the years that Ferguson felt he was sneaking up on. There was a heated argument surrounding Carlos Tevez’s 2009 side change, the Welcome to Manchester billboard, which stories are still told today. Toure revealed they were the talk of his Barca teammates at the time.
“United were so comfortable – they were winning week after week, they were easily winning the league and in front of us were all these other teams like Chelsea and Arsenal,” said Toure. “It was very tough at the beginning. It’s only now, looking back, that I realize how hard it is.
“The players understood why I came and could see the hard work I put in. I wanted to set the bar high.” Garry Cook and Brian Marwood had the confidence of the above people to spend money and attract the best players so they could change things.
Manchester United will be desperate to prevent City from clinching the famous treble this season
Toure spent eight seasons at Man City before leaving the club after Guardiola’s second year
“I was in Barcelona and I saw the Tevez thing on Sky, it was great.” Setting him apart from a great rival can perhaps understand why Ferguson felt frustrated and disappointed. [off]. When a manager starts talking about someone or other clubs, it means he’s scared. It means he feels something important is going on there. “You don’t talk about someone like that if you’re not afraid of them.”
That fear really crystallized six months after the semifinals at Old Trafford, the season of the Sergio Aguero moment. United 1-6 City, an afternoon still sung about to this day. Mario Balotelli and his bathroom fireworks the night before, the “Why Always Me?” t-shirt, the relentless abuse after Jonny Evans’ red card. City fans still think it would have been 10.
“You could see the camera on Ferguson’s face and it was red,” Toure said. “He said nothing. You could see it in his eyes. He said, “Oh.” Unbelievable. It was like a slap in the face to the United fans.
“In their stadium, the most iconic in the world, against the best manager in the world who made their team great and we beat them 6-1. ‘What’s better than that?’