All the excitement, all the hype going into the game at Old Trafford, the first meeting in the league of two sides looking to be contending for honours this season, with Manchester City keen to be taken seriously as contenders this season. The game started in fairly ordinary fashion, with Manchester United perhaps enjoying more of the possession in the opening exchanges without really advancing on goal. Then, arguably against the run of play, it was fierce rivals, City who opened the scoring, with Balotelli slotting home with a cool finish. At this scoreline it was all to play for, one goal down there is always a possibility of getting back into it. But as City settled into the game, United struggled to find their way past a well organised defence, and so failed to create anything meaningful going forward. Half time, one down. A disappointing first half, time to regroup. Second half begins and within moments the game takes a turn for the worse for the United faithful, when a ball forward intended for Balotelli was not dealt with appropriately, with Jonny Evans scrambling back pulling on the big striker and nearly conceding a penalty. The consequence of this, however, was a red card with little argument to support any other decision. It was always going to be an uphill task from there, and when the 2nd and 3rd goals were added soon after, the game looked dead and buried. 80 minutes in and Darren Fletcher offers a consolation with a superb effort, 3-1. The start of an unlikely comeback? United kept going, trying to find something only for all hopes to be dashed with Dzeko tapping home with a minute left. 4-1, game over. This scoreline would probably have exceeded most City fans expectations from the day, only for Silva and Dzeko to round off the rout, 3 goals in the final minutes. Final score: 6-1, at Old Trafford. Humiliation and embarrassment for United. Scenes of jubilation for City. Abysmal from United. Strong from City. With that, here are five things that may be taken from the game.
1) City – worthy of their win
Before getting on to mentioning a few points regarding Sunday’s horrendous performance, it should be stated that at the same time Manchester City played extremely well, were well organised and highly effective going forward, punishing United’s shortcomings, particularly as they capitulated in the closing moments. Throughout the game they got men behind the ball and even though it was felt United had the better of the opening exchanges, it demonstrated City’s organisation when it was found after half an hour United had only had the one attempt at goal (off target at that) and City had had four. Every time United went forward they were crowded out by Mancini’s men defending in an organised manner and proving difficult to break down. It was hard to doubt their credentials as contenders this season, given the quality of the signings on board, but Sunday was a statement of their intentions for the rest of the year.
2) Recent performances went punished
Despite how well United started the season, in recent weeks certain frailties particularly defensively and in the midfield have come to light. The failure to rectify or improve upon these has culminating in it being punished in the most emphatic of fashion by a City side too strong to get away with such performances much longer. There have been times where Untied have been lucky to get away with points from certain games, with Chelsea, Norwich and Liverpool, as well as the Champions League games, giving reasons as to why United may well have been lucky not to drop more points than they did. As well as this going forward has not been as effective of late, perhaps in part due to the lack of strength in midfield and there have been times when David De Gea has saved them, such as against Liverpool.
3) Jonny Evans should’ve let Balotelli through
At 0-1 there is all to play for at the beginning of the second half. The last thing needed is a red card. Based on the performance, it’s unclear whether or not United would have truly got themselves back into the game but with a goal in it one never knows, there is always a possibility, but when reduced to ten men the game back becomes that much more difficult. If Evans had simply let him through than blatantly pulling him back, yes Balotelli would have been through on goal, perhaps he would have scored but at that point there is always the possibility of De Gea saving it and, importantly United would still have had a full side out. Many were questioning the logic in playing Evans ahead of Jones, and perhaps would have used Sunday’s performance as justification for that argument. Most would have preferred to see Jones start, particularly for his strong runs going forward as well as his defensive qualities, but at the same time one must remember that defensively United have looked exposed at the back even with him in the side. The point being the ineptitude of Evans is not the sole focus of United’s shambolic performance, although he will undoubtedly be made to shoulder most of the blame for some. It was interesting to hear Sir Alex Ferguson comment on the game, mentioning Rio Ferdinand and Evra as the experienced examples that should have kept United organised to see the game out when 4-1 down only to have his side opened up once again for City to take two more goals. It is probably fair to say that Ferdinand has not been up to his standards of late and the lack of Vidic in the side has perhaps highlighted this further. Although De Gea has improved lately, his presence as the root of the defence has still not come forth yet and the experienced defenders in front of him need to make up for this, and on the evidence of this particular game, it is an area seriously lacking.
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Fair assessment – interesting point about United’s width and wingers (usually United’s ultimate strength) – I’m a ST at City and our lack of width has worried me but the system Mancini is using compensates for that by playing Yaya high and the likes of Silva, Aguero and Ballotelli to play off him.
One other point – you have played the top teams but it has all been at Old Trafford (Scousers aside)… so that should make for some tough games in the second half of the season – despite the win today I still fancy the return fixture at the Etihad to be the title decider
Indeed most have been at home but it is in relation to the first half of the season, with a good chance for a solid run of games coming up. Of course many of the deciding games will come towards the end of the season including said trip to Etihad.
evans ,fletcher and anderson are just not good enough for man utd …
Here is a good analysis of yesterday’s game:-
I have said on numerous occasions that it was not Carrick that was the problem, it was the players around him. Scholes went up a level when Carrick joined five years ago. Carrick makes the other players look better than they are and gives them the freedom to express themselves. Without him, we have looked “rudderless”!
Admittedly Carrick is not a tough tackling type, but the game has moved on and we should be building the team around Carrick to suit his game, not asking Carrick to singlehandedly stop Barcelona as part of a one man central midfield!
Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets are not tough tackling types either and we don’t need a “Stevie-G” or “Fat Frank”, we need a Scholes-type. Pay up for Schweinsteiger, Ramsey or Modrich to play alongside Carrick. Maybe Cleverley can grow into the role, but we still need some depth.
Evans and Anderson should be moved on at the end of the season, and possibly Fletcher and Park too. Evra and Ferdinand are not getting any younger either.
I like Berbatov, but unless he is part of Fergie’s plans it would be fairer to let him move on also, he is too good to be stewing on the sidelines.
A lot of decisions to be made…
Lets hope Fergie isn’t heading for a Brian Clough style descent.
The closest Carrick has come to a PL start this year was when he came on at Bolton after seven minutes and we won 5-0.
He also came on as a sub against Chelsea after 62 mins and helped us to see out the game 3-1. Other than that, he has started four CL and CC games this year and we did not lose (W 2, D 2).
I don’t blame Fergie for looking at some other options in Anderson and Fletcher, but whether you love him or hate him, we are much better team with Carrick at the heart.
This was coming we all knew it. The defence has been shaky to put it mildly and the midfield has been nonexistence. All this bullshit about Carrick would have made a difference is just laughable; the man has been crap for a few years now. Fergie should have bought a quality central midfielder and we all know it so why did Fergie not add to the squad? Maybe the Glazers having a hand in it or simply not enough finance?
Another annoying thing after leaving Old Trafford which I always stay to the end is seeing all the day trippers with their pathetic half United and half City scarves with big smiles taking photos. I know they will never visit the stadium again but Christ smiling and laughing on a day like this?
I agree with every single thing you said. Shame on those cunts that left the stadium and shame on the players for this below average performance. Only the bday boy looked like he gave a rats ass. Its time to shine or find somewhere else to be mediocre. We’ve rellied on luck for far too long. I love united now more than ever.
Nice piece. Yesterdays performance by Utd was absolutely shocking. We can analyse all we want but all roads lead back to the midfield. Not strengthening our midefield during the summer was one of Fergies biggest mistakes in all his years at Old Trafford.
Positive, we play good passes and keep possession… Our midfield sucks though 🙁
Fact is: we have a mediocre team with a hell of a fighting spirit and a whole of a lot of luck. Luck ran out. Its time to do something about it.
Well, people may think this was a shock, but this was coming for about 1 or 2 seasons now. We have to look at the fact that United performances have been really average for far too long now. Even in this derby game anyone can see that we have a serious lack of creative midfielders. You can describe Young as creative, but apart from him and Cleverly i cant pick many. I honestly dont think we should panick buy and go after massive names like Inniesta, Xavi, Sneijder and all the rest of them. Unlike City the strength is in our academy, players like Ravel Morrison need to start making first team appearences now i think. He’s ready to make that step up. Tunicliffe’s, after he comes back from his loan spell should feature pretty soon as well. There are many others that can also make the step up.
Players like Evans, Ferdinand, Nani and Anderson really have a lot to answer for this defeat. Just how many seasons does Anderson need? He’s been here for over 5 years now and still he cant put in good performances in a string of games along with Nani. Its one step forwards and two steps back with those two.