Ahead of the derby, I’d say most United fans would have been happy enough with a scoreless draw at Wastelands. We were anticipating a number of our players to be missing, or at least under the weather, following the virus that effected so many of our players.
We were right to be more hopeful after seeing the team sheet, but after a cagey first half, with neither side willing to commit to the attack, a 0-0 draw still seemed like a good result.
However, by the end of the 90 minutes, after United had totally bossed the midfield and kept City out of the box, it was frustrating that we hadn’t made the most of our dominance and converted some of the chances we created after rounding the parked bus.
When you think of derby days of years gone by, with shit players like Fowler, Sinclair, Macken and Vassell scoring against us, you do have to wonder where Roberto Mancini has spent his money, if that was the best they could do at home. City fans amusingly talk of the “power shift” in Manchester, but if the three victories over them last season weren’t enough to totally dismiss their point, Wednesday night’s performance was. Can you imagine United travelling to Stamford Bridge, the Emirates, Anfield or even White Hart Lane, and being confronted with such negative tactics? If you can’t take the game to your local rivals and supposed title rivals when you’re at home, then what are your aspirations for the season?
Danny Pugsley from the popular City blog Bitter and Blue has given his reaction to the game.
Scott the Red: Happy with the performance?
DP: To a degree. City lined up as they have done for the most part with the platform being the midfield trio, aiming to maintain and control possession, restricting opportunities and breaking on the counter.
Alex Ferguson isn’t a fool; he countered this set up with a trio of his own in Fletcher, Carrick and Scholes. Whilst Scholes saw plenty of the ball he was always very deep and couldn’t inflict much damage. This of course meant that the midfields overwhelming cancelled each other out and resulted in so few chances created and both happy with the point.
I would have hoped for more from Tevez and Silva, but Tevez wasn’t fully fit and Silva was well shackled with Vidic in particular looking very impressive indeed.
City I think had more to gain from victory, but equally, had more to lose and effectively offered the point with United happy to take it and both sides move on.
STR: Happy with the result?
DP: Definitely. The days of the result of the derby being considered in isolation are in the past where the result of the derby meant bragging rights or putting a small dent in United’s title ambition. With City finishing mid table, in terms of points, the result against United didn’t particularly have an effect overall.
Now, it does and the result has to be taken into consideration in context of the whole season. Last year, we of course narrowly missed on fourth place and had we not conceded late in the two derbies, two additional points could have made a difference.
STR: Equally, if you’d tried to win the game, you might have won the game, and there’s two additional points picked up already. Still, with twleve games played, Mancini is on exactly the same points as Hughes was, just five games before he got sacked. Is this good enough considering you’re a year further and £millions more in to The Project (TM)?
DP: There needs to be some context in place here as there is a lot comparisons based solely on points at games at comparative stages.
After twelve games Hughes had won 5 drawn 6 and lost 1 and was in sixth place a point of fourth and seven off second (United). This season, we have won 6 drawn 3 and lost 3 after 12 games and are in fourth place and three points off second (United) – and have a four point cushion over fifth. We have also had the additional games in Europe which we didn’t last season.
Games 13-17 before Hughes was sacked City only won 2 out of 5 and were six points off fourth place. What did for him was that in those games were collapses from positions of strength (that resulted in drawn games) which set alarm bells ringing.
Obviously there has been more money spent on the side but it is in a stronger position in the table currently and also in being able to sustain a minimum top four finish.
STR: The context given is totally in relation to what those around you are doing though. You’re in a stronger position in the table because other teams are weaker. You would think a year down the road, with a supposedly superior manager and superior players, you wouldn’t need the failures of other teams to look good… Anyway, back to the game, who did you think was man of the match?
DP: Did anyone really stand out? There were a lot of middling performances (6’s and 7’s) in all honesty and perhaps sums up the game when for City it was probably a choice between de Jong and Kompany and for United, Vidic, Evra and Carrick were the best on the night.
STR: Who did you think had the worst game?
DP: Again, no-one had a shocker. I’d hoped for more from Silva, but he wasn’t helped a great deal and Vidic and Evra are up there amongst the best in the league.
Admittedly he was on his own up front and not given a great deal of time but it was the first time I’ve seen Hernandez play after hearing plenty about him so perhaps expected a little more.
STR: Ten minutes, as a lone striker, without both our first choice fullbacks in attacking support, probably wouldn’t put him in his best light. It has to be said if that’s what you do at home, I can’t wait for our game at home!