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Manchester United turnaround puts City in the spotlight

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When Manuel Pelligrini saw his side maul Newcastle 4-0 at the Etihad in the season's opening fixture, he could not have foreseen the struggles his side were about to encounter. 

Despite these issues starting a mere week later with an embarrassing loss to Premier League newcomers Cardiff City - where they conceded three goals in the process - their frailties at the back were somewhat unnoticed thanks to David Moyes' unintentional attempts to drag Manchester United into an early relegation battle. 

The Red Devils lost away at their bitter rivals Liverpool before scraping past lowly Crystal Palace. And then came the Manchester derby. 

The noisy neighbours have had the wood on United in recent times, beating them regularly - and comfortably, too. 

So it was almost unsurprising when a Sergio Aguero-inspired City tore United limb from limb in a scene more suited to a Rome colosseum, and the reaction in the aftermath of United's heaviest derby-day defeat since, erm, 2011, was even less shocking.

The fact that #MoyesOut was trending on social media site Twitter before the final whistle blew that day emphasised the job the Scot had on his hands - although it is highly likely it was fans of other teams laughing at United's demise, rather than Red Devils themselves trying to remove Moyes via hashtag. 

The difference between the former Everton manager and his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson was exercised by the response of the champions. Manchester United 1-2 West Brom. 

No cavalier response. No hope, some Mancunian's would say. Although, in the here and now, those cries may be heard from the blue half of Manchester.

Because while Moyes' men seem to have turned a corner since their defeat at the hands of the Baggies - winning four and drawing one of their last five in the league - City's problems are happening on a more consistent basis that can't be put down to mere blips. 

How can you beat Newcastle 4-0, then lose in Wales to a newly-promoted side? How can you thump the champions 4-1, then surrender a lead (twice) away to relegation candidates Villa? 

Thankfully for Pellegrini, the results preceding those abysmal losses - coupled with Moyes finding it hard to locate his feet in Sir Alex's shoes - deflected the pressure away from the Chilean. 

With their loss at the Black Cats, as well as United triumphing over Arsenal, that situation has now changed.

Moyes is the one smiling, albeit from fifth position, as he can now look in the mirror and see Pellegrini behind him in the lowly position of eighth.

The Citizens have mixed one win with two further away losses since they recorded back-to-back victories for the first (and only) time this season against Everton and the Hammers in October.

Joe Hart's blunder (I refuse to blame Matija Nastastic at all) allowed Fernando Torres in to steal all three points at Stamford Bridge, and although they can count themselves unlucky given Bardsley rugby-tackled James Milner to the floor before finishing with aplomb, they failed to break down a meek Sunderland outfit that is apparently enjoying a revival.

Going forward is not their problem, as the partnership of Alvaro Negredo and Aguero have aptly shown. 

It's said time and time again but Vincent Kompany's absence is a Grand Canyon-sized hole in the middle of their back four, and their failure to add to a frail defence over the summer is costing them on the road.

Their Belgian captain's injury niggles are nothing new. He missed a crucial festive period last term after limping off against United, and is expected to be out for another three weeks as of today

Nastasic has bags of potential, but is not the leader to marshal City's back line. And as for Joleon Lescott, he simply doesn't cut it anymore. His days at the top level are numbered, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him move to a lesser Premier League club in the next summer window. 

Pellegrini must act in January and strengthen his defence, otherwise they will continue to struggle on their travels through lack of experience and a depreciating confidence away from home.

If they don't, the likes of Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal will begin to stretch too far ahead of them in the race for the title, because they're simply too good not to. At that point, Roberto Mancini's successor may find himself edging closer towards following the Italian out the door.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Manchester City

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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