As those in red trudged off in the rain as those in sky blue celebrated in front of the away section, it gave a picture of what the two clubs are. Erling, son of Alf, scored two, one of the back of a contentious penalty and another with a header. Foden rounded off the scoring. United may look back at the penalty and the chances they had, with McTominay, Hojlund and Rashford, but it was not much. If they are, it speaks to the mid table standards they play by and where we sit at the moment. The performances continue to underwhelm and it feels like Erik Ten Hag is just falling deeper and deeper into the hole, where the unescapable darkness of his termination will envelope him.
When the rumours of the omissions swirled and it was then confirmed by the official channels, plenty thought that it must have been some sort of fitness issues yet it was all tactical. Varane and Reguilon dropped to the bench with Evans and Lindelof coming in to the positions they played when the former two were injured. Eriksen came in as he did vs Copenhagen but it was for Antony, rather than Amrabat.
It meant that it was a similar tactic from last year with Bruno out wide to protect against Man City’s penchant for full backs to invert. The back line is perhaps to combat the fact that United have been poor at attacking the ball once it comes into their box so he picked the biggest possible XI. However, Varane is our best box defender and our defensive leader so the lack of him was quite the surprise when it wasn’t due to injury.
The first 15 mins or so, it was evenly matched as United were able to create a few transition opportunities but once City started to keep the ball and United fell back into their old patterns, it became more of the game we expected. The penalty was a soft one and was an unnecessary intervention from the VAR but the issue was brewing long before that. Especially down that right hand side.
Between Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes, you will seldom see a worse performance on defending your wing. The instruction of Bruno Fernandes was just unclear. Was he the one to mark Stones when he stepped into midfield? Was he to go back to stop Dalot being doubled upon by Bernando Silva and Jack Grealish? It was unclear. The second goal was the exact thing between the two of them. Dalot makes an overlapping run and Bruno, as Bruno does, tries an audacious outside of the foot pass that is easily cut out. City attack down that right hand side where they were able to go 2 ahead, which essentially put the game to bed.
When you are in unfamiliar positions, you cannot even go back to your basics because what are your basics in those positions? It was something that we could expect but seeing the difference between the two laid bare each time that these defeat occur just truly show the chasm between the prolific power Man City have become and the cobbled mess that Man Utd have become.
If there was an award for the worst substitution of the season, Ten Hag would regularly put himself in the hat with a numerate amount of nominations. Subbing Amrabat again at half time, like he did vs Copenhagen, just goes against any sort of justifiable thinking. The Dutch manager literally said that Amrabat was brought in for occasions where Casemiro would be unavailable and with any chance that he has had to sub him when the Brazilian finally is, he has. Without any alternative because the Moroccan is already the alternative. What is his thinking? Mount coming on can be directly attributed to the second goal. He looked to fix an issue by looking in the wrong area. The goals of McTominay seem to hang around him as a noose as he struggles to bring him off because he has the ability to get a goal from nothing. It’s the sort of simplistic thinking you expect from an 11 year old on Football Manager, having their first go at the game. The starting XI was weird enough, the substitutions literally showed the manager making the team worse.
Bruno borders petulant and passionate at the best of times. It is hilarious how much vigour he puts into trying to tackle people out of frustration at the end compared to when he has to run back to help his fellow team mate complete defensive actions. He tries to trick the viewer, as Neville said on commentary, by doing things that resemble a player who cares but it is really just a man throwing his toys out of the pram. Antony came on to do it with him, just so he wouldn’t be alone. Both could have been sent off through a combination of lashing out with challenges and talking back to the referee. You see proper leaders when it isn’t easy to lead and Bruno having that armband just emblazons the fact he is not fit to wear it but he has tricked his way to it and it is not a protective band that means he can continue to stink out games when he should be firmly affixed to the red driving seats in the home section.