Manchester City 4 Manchester United 1: Some Thoughts

Date: 23rd September 2013 at 4:05 pm
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Mick Hucknall, Terry Christian, Eamonn Holmes, James Nesbitt, Mumford and (bloody) Sons, Terry Christian again, Zoe Ball, Paddy Crerand, Lou Macari, Clayton Blackmore, Terry Christian again, Mark Ogden, Usain Bolt, Gary Neville, Howard Webb, some bloke who used to present Play School, Terry Christian again. Your boys took one hell of a beating.

I hate derby day. Anyone who enjoys it needs medical help. It really doesn’t get any easier with time….. but hey, at least the sun was out. A beautiful day as it turned out.

The line-up was exactly as I’d hoped, Negredo replacing Dzeko, the pace of Navas to exploit United’s defence and keep Evra pinned back, the omission of Clichy and Silva unavoidable after recent injuries. It shows our strength in depth that they weren’t needed, along with Jovetic, Richards, Demichelis, Milner et al.
As for United, there was no doubt that the late withdrawal of Van Persie was a huge boost.

And as for the match itself…..

That was, without doubt, the perfect performance, at least for an hour. No criticisms, no weaknesses, utterly dominant, every player doing their job and the team (eventually) ruthless. Only after victory was assured did the team ease off and let United back into the game.

City still could have had six or seven if truth be told. But easing off in the last third of the game was utterly unacceptable (City completed just 75 passes in the 2nd half to United’s 255).

That last point was a joke.

Well, partly.

But history tells me never to relax, and even at four goals to the good, I was clock-watching. It was only as the board was held up to show three minutes’ injury time that I could finally relax.

But you know a performance is good, really really good, when you feel guilty for singling out a star performer. I’d struggle to be honest. Throughout the team, from Fernandinho’s  week-long arrival as a player of substance, through to the magnificent front-two, the in-form Nasri, the rampaging Toure and the defensive wall erected by City, featuring at its heart one of Vincent Kompany’s best games.

Having said all that, what do I know about player performances? After all, Fernandinho was ‘hardly noticed as he was outshone by Toure’ according to The Sun. Ian Ladyman thought Kompany put in a 7/10 performance.
(In truth, Fernandinho made more interceptions (five) than Carrick, Fellaini and Valencia combined, and set up three scoring opportunities. Kompany made 2 interceptions, 12 clearances (highest on pitch), had an 81% pass accuracy, and made 9 ball recoveries (also the highest on the pitch). Elsewhere, Zabaleta made almost as many tackles as the entire United team.)

Perhaps if I am to single out individuals it is best to mention the two players most often the target of flak from City fans. Samir Nasri made the absence of David Silva an irrelevance, and he continued his good form. Long may it continue. The Frenchman has always appeared to be a fragile soul, and just maybeCity’s executive team’s desire for a holistic approach, including a manager who coaches and encourages players, is having an effect in this regard.

And then there’s Aleksander Kolarov. We’ve all thrown the odd expletive his way over recent years, but he deserves credit when he plays well, and he contributed as much as many yesterday. Like Nasri, perhaps it is time to cut him some slack and see if he can flourish under the guiding hand of Pellegrini. And he clearly has his uses. I very much doubt that Gael Clichy would have made the lung-bursting run that led to the first goal.

As for a moment that encapsulated the effort put in by City’s captain, and how much it meant to him, just check his run for the 4th goal. Then check his reaction after the ball hit the back of the net. Look at his face, just look at his face!

Was this better than the 6-1 at Old Trafford? A strange assertion, but it was a more dominant performance, against 11 men throughout, and remember City scored three late on at THE THEATRE OF DREAMS as United’s heads went, but to destroy your rivals like that away from home does give the 1-6 the slightest of edges for me.

Across the divide, it was not surprising that Wayne Rooney was United’s best player, the only player to cause City problems. Still, as usual it seems that the usual rules do not apply to Mr Rooney, the only surprise being his eventual booking. Or maybe I’m being prejudiced. Either way, his goal though made him the top derby scorer of all time, and he continues to turn up against City, unlike some of his colleagues.

Ryan Giggs it seems engaged in a half-time “tirade” at the fourth official, no doubt exasperated at not being on the pitch, thus missing the chance to spend 90 minutes surrounding the referee and trying to get opposition players dismissed – so you can understand his frustration on this occasion. The only thing more woeful was David Moyes once more bemoaning the random fixture list.

Rooney took up the mantle of referee-baiter, especially after a pathetic attempt by United to win a penalty. I imagine Howard Webb said to him, “sorry Wayne, even I can’t do anything about this”.

Still, United fans can look on the bright side. Alex Ferguson lost one of his first derbies 5-1 – therefore Moyes > Ferguson.

Things have changed though since the knight of the realm retired. United didn’t even bother with their rotational fouling on key City players anymore. Hell, even notoriously-shy family man Paul Scholes wasn’t wheeled out in derby week to remind everyone how much bigger United are. When Wayne Rooney eventually broke ranks to inform us that Liverpool was still United’s biggest match, it was met with a collective shrug of shoulders. They can do better than that, surely? Still, some consolation for Rooney and team-mates – you only lost your biggest match 1-0, not 4-1.

There must be something to criticise City for though? Well you could write an article that clutches at straws so tightly they turn to dust, claiming that at least your fans were the noisiest (http://thepeoplesperson.com/manchester-united-away-fans-show-their-true-class-in-city-game/), but the award must go elsewhere on this occasion.
Step forward Neil Ashton. A quite pathetic piece in the Daily Mail bemoaned City’s foreign outfield 10 in the derby and what bad news it was for the England team. “Could be the day football died,” tweeted Ashton, no doubt with a straight face.
It’s a quite idiotic assertion that one team selection has somehow affected the future of the England team, when you consider that Milner and Lescott have had match-time this season, and that Richards wasn’t match fit. It’s also very convenient to omit City’s goalkeeper from his argument. Nothing changed because of the team played yesterday, and we all know there is a good reason for playing foreign players – they are usually better than their English counterparts. But if Ashton had bothered to even do a quick Google search he’d be reminded of the academy plans, and its intention to bring through English talent, as is already being shown by the crop of 13 and 14-year-olds enjoying national success. It’s not news anyway, as it has happened before (away from City), but then most articles on the Daily Mail website aren’t news, so I guess it’s par for the course.
Apropos of nothing, Ashton claimed United’s selection of six Englishmen was part of their core values, which probably helps explain why they got their arses spanked.

God I love derby day…..

 

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