Manchester City put United to the sword in derby clash
Manchester City thrashed arch-rivals United at the Etihad Stadium
Manuel Pellegrini’s first taste of the Manchester derby could not have been any sweeter this weekend, as his Manchester City team comfortably triumphed 4-1 over United on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Etihad.
This was also David Moyes’ first Manchester derby. The news that Robin van Persie would miss the game through injury must have been a blow, but he would still have been confident that his team would be more than a match for City, but any notion of this had faded away after the first 10 minutes.
The match began at a fervent pace, with both teams attempting to break each other down with quick breaks and smart passing. But as the first half went on, City became more and more comfortable.
Sergio Aguero finished smartly after Antonio Valencia failed to track Aleksandar Kolarov's overlap. City remained in complete control for the rest of the first half and after Yaya Toure prodded at the back post from a set piece, City went in at the break two up.
The United performance up until half-time reminded me of England's much maligned display against Italy at Euro 2012.
Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini were sitting very deep, they just didn’t have the pace to cope with the movement of Samir Nasri and Aguero.
On the rare occasion United broke forward with the ball, they advanced with a clear four in midfield and two up front. Neither Wayne Rooney or Danny Welbeck dropped deep to aid in the link up play, Ashley Young and Valencia were both stuck to the touchlines and had very little effect on the game.
It was clear United needed a burst of energy and creativity. I personally would have brought on Shinji Kagawa for Young at half-time, he would have been more comfortable coming infield to add some ingenuity to a very limp attack.
The teams returned after half-time and United were keen to push on to take something out of the game, but they seemed to have left their defensive heads in the dressing room and within five minutes they were 4-0 down.
Nemanja Vidic couldn’t contain a lively Alvaro Negredo who squared the ball for Aguero, who had drifted into the box completely unmarked, to grab a second.
Soon after City broke again and after a good cross by Jesus Navas, Nasri was left alone at the back post to finish.
Moyes then brought on Tom Cleverley to add an extra dimension to the United midfield and although they performed better after this, the game was already over.
It took 65 minutes before they managed to test Joe Hart, it took 70 minutes before Valencia even attempted to take on Kolarov and get into the box.
A late Rooney free-kick did little to mask over what was a very, very poor United performance.
This was easily City’s best performance of the season. Vincent Kompany was nothing short of magnificent.
He was strong, assertive and back to his commanding best, he certainly showed why he is still the best central defender in the world and why City miss him so much when he is absent.
Toure was also world class. He is everything Marouane Fellaini wishes he could be. He defended stoutly when he needed to, he linked up well with the forwards and was always a threat to the United defence.
There were a few more outstanding performances, but every City player did their part in this wonderfully complete team display. They never really looked troubled and were always in control, which must be a huge concern for Moyes.
He has now only taken seven points from a possible 15, which is worrying, but United are notoriously slow starters and even the great Sir Alex Ferguson had some pretty torrid afternoons against their “noisy neighbours”.
However, the critics will be circling like vultures to see how his team can bounce back from this terrible display.
They lacked penetration, energy and imagination, their defending was sloppy and in front of goal they were wasteful as City put on a footballing clinic for them to sit back and watch.
Outwitted, outplayed, outclassed.
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