Pep Guardiola handed Jose Mourinho his first defeat as Manchester United manager in Saturday’s thrilling derby.
It brought to an end the Portuguese managers perfect start to life at Old Trafford. A win against Leicester City in the Community Shield had been followed up by three wins in the Premier League.
But United came back down to earth, and in the worst possible way. This wasn’t just any defeat - it was a defeat to the arch rival.
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The Red Devils can, of course, recover. It’s only September and a league title has never been decided after four games.
It will have shocked the system, however. Mourinho will have been expected three points against City, who were without Sergio Aguero owing to a suspension.
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United's summer signings were up and down
Mourinho can only look for the positives, of which there were few. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his fifth goal of the season but world-record signing Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both failed to shine.
As for United’s fourth summer signing? Well, he was a star. According to Mourinho, anyway.
The 53-year-old has picked Eric Bailly as United’s best player in the match. The 22-year-old has settled into life incredibly well, picking up United’s Player of the Month award for August, and he put in another solid shift on Saturday as United pushed for an equaliser.
Man of the match
He’s now received Mourinho’s seal of approval. What a turning he’s proving to be.
“We can speak about Eric Bailly, who was playing for Villareal who never played in a derby of this dimension, but was our best player, was the player of the month, and produced a fantastic performance,” Mourinho assessed, per the Manchester Evening News. “He coped with many situations.”
“So you never know the way players are going to react, especially when you don’t know them so well. And after only a couple of months it is too early to know them really well."
Early signs are positive. It’s crazy to think that the £30 million signing had only played 40 top-flight matches before Mourinho signed him.
Pacy and assured, he looks set to play a key role in front of David de Gea for years to come.
Things weren’t so bright for two other summer arrivals, however. Pogba and Mkhitaryan both received plenty of criticism for their performances in the derby, the latter even coming off at half-time.
Mourinho will have been looking for Pogba to inspire a comeback when United fell two goals behind in the first half but the £89 million man was largely anonymous throughout.
Saturday’s result showed that the Red Devils remain a work in progress.
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