The 177th Manchester Derby went in favour of the Citizens after they beat Man United 3-1 at the Etihad on Sunday. Anthony Martial scored a second half penalty for the Red Devils but David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan were on target for the home side and they prevailed. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, observed the tie and notes a few talking points.
The unsurprising poor start was present again
It seems Manchester United’s poor starts to matches has come to stay and it will be something of a feature for the foreseeable future.
Matches against Newcastle United, Chelsea, Bournemouth, and Juventus were all played the same way.
Poor start, great finish.
While a lot of people were the Red Devils to understand that quality like that which exists in the Man City team would be tough to overhaul despite the heroics of last season.
Thus, there was no need to give a lot away very early.
All that expectation was thrown out of the window after 12 minutes. At that point in games, players are supposed to be switched on fully but Luke Shaw completely missed Bernardo Silva and allowed the Portuguese to attack a cross from Raheem Sterling. Silva turned the ball back into play for David Silva to put Man City 1-0 up.
And all that happened because there was no verve at the start of the game.
Jose Mourinho said before the game that there was the need to be awake and grown up about starting matches. Obviously, that never played out and the ultimate price was paid.
Individual errors cost premium
On a day like this, you would imagine that players would fully grasp the meaning of the match and try to give their best for the team. There would be effort mixed with right judgement and the hunger to get a favourable result.
On the day, Man United’s players may have wanted the victory. They may have worked hard or seemed to be working hard but they helped to cause their fail by making costly mistakes against a team of massive strength.
Shaw’s one has been mentioned already but the biggest culprit was Jesse Lingard.
With the team in transition, failing to control a pass always was a huge danger and that is what the player did. Of course, he would not want his team to concede but then, the inability to hold the ball at a major point in the game was unpardonable.
There were others who barely got a foot right in the tie. Ashley Young was almost always second best to his opponents and he committed needless silly fouls.
Ander Herrera was strangely off the rhythm too as his attempts at one-touch passing to liberate breaks were not good enough. Nemanja Matic laboured through the game even though he got in come good tackles and interceptions.
In a game of this magnitude, every thing counts including the mistakes made and that lesson was handed out by Manchester City.
Evident gap in quality
Despite the comeback heroics over the last few weeks, the emotional displays and show of grit, there is a certain underlying truth that is very unavoidable.
Manchester United’s current team is way off the other top teams in terms of quality and skill.
A closer examination of the defence, midfield and attack reveals that while other teams possess game changers and players who can make things happen, the Red Devils do not enough of these tools.
If another player of better quality led the line, there would have been more productive use of the counter attacks. Man United had nothing to play with going forward and Marcus Rashford’s deficiencies were on full display.
The midfield lacked guile and skill on the offensive and it was very telling that Paul Pogba was absent. The Frenchman has not given many consistent performances ever since he joined from Juventus but the Red Devils did miss him in the derby.
It may hurt to admit this fact but Manchester City’s victory underlines where the teams are going.
One has identified the need to add to its fold for the pursuit of greatness. The other is struggling to chart a path on the way forward.
Guess which one is Manchester United.