It doesn’t matter where you are in the league, who has the better players, what the managers have been saying pre-match or what the score was the last time the sides met – when Manchester United face Manchester City, it is pride and local bragging rights at stake; and last night the reds came up short.
The opening 20 minutes were fast paced and ferocious, with the game being played as though it was a cup-tie.
All a tad different to 12 months prior when United went to the Etihad looking for a 0-0.
Saying that; twelve months prior there was more to risk as the gap at the top was closer and defeat literally meant surrendering a Premier League crown.
This time around with City taking all three points again, they have closed the gap to 12 points with seven games left to play. A gap big enough to probably see this campaign through – but fundamentally this still wasn’t the result we all wanted and more importantly, it was another poor performance from United.
This ‘Real Madrid hangover‘ has lasted longer than we all thought it would.
Rooney, despite a few good touches and a lot of willing, looked unfit; Giggs didn’t turn up and Welbeck was ineffective.
Ashley Young on the other hand looked dangerous but did not see enough of the ball.
Defensively United had a few problems as Vidic, Smalling and Evans were all absent with injury so Sir Alex started with a centre half pairing of Jones and Ferdinand.
You must think if any other central defender was fit, Jones would have played in midfield alongside Carrick ensuring there space in which Silva works in would be non existent.
Despite this disruption to the side I believe we saw Phil Jones at his combative best.
It is rare that in losing a game and conceding two goals, a defender would stand out – but Jones was outstanding against a City side full of movement.
With the likes of Tevez, Aguero, Nasri and Silva all playing in holes and finding pockets of space – does a centre half come out of position to close them down, or should a midfielder drop deep therefore encouraging pressure onto the back line?
A tough decision to make time after time, but decisions Jones made very well.
I appreciate a lot of the Unite faithful think Evans is the future of the United defence, but last night Jones looked every bit as accomplished as any central defender I have seen.
There is a reason that Jones himself enjoys playing there… Because he knows it is where he is at his best.
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