Manchester Derby-Things We Learned


The Manchester Derby’s first installment this season has finally come and gone, the result was a surprise as Manchester City made a huge statement of intent by completely destroying Manchester United; 6-1. This defeat was United’s worst at home since 1955 and Sir Alex’s worst at home since being in charge since 1986. 

After watching a magnificent City performance, a number of things come to mind and I will best address them;

  • Johnny Evans is not United (not anywhere near world) Class

 A lot of attention is being given to the sending off of Johnny Evans as the chief reason for United’s humiliation, let’s take his 47mins or so on the pitch into contest; a sloppy pass when caught in no man’s land in central midfield led to the first goal coupled with a poor attempt at a block as Super Mario passed the ball to the back of the net. Fresh from the dressing room at half time, all plaudits to Silva for the pass, but come on Johnny the ball is there to be played, you make a school boy error, leave the ball and all of a sudden start a romance with Mario Balotelli by being all over him. I know a number of United fans whose hearts skip a couple of beats when they see Johnny Evans on the team sheet. To think United sold Gerald Pique because they had big hopes for Evans, seems like one of Fergie’s biggest mistakes, just take a look at Pique now at Barca, it says it all; Johnny Evans is not anywhere near the kind of defender that should put on the Red strip of United.

  • David Silva, PFA Player of the year

It may just be October, but can the award be given already? David Silva, absolutely world class; his movement, passing, use of space and vision is really, really unmatched by anyone in the premier league. What’s even more amazing is the way he goes about it in an unassuming manner like he’s not doing anything spectacular. If any team wants to get the better of City, Silva is the man to put in check.

  • Super Mario- ‘Why Always Me?’

In previews before the game, a lot was said about the impact Mario Balotelli may have on the game; he was superb for City and showed why he is in such good form. The first goal was absolutely fantastic and the T- Shirt said it all. Balotelli with his temperament in check can go on to have a great career.

  • United’s new approach leaves huge gaps
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Manchester United, this season have decided to play with a lot of pace especially from the wide areas, this somewhat shapes United in an open 4-2-4 formation, they may have gotten away with it against certain teams but City truly punished United with their numbers in Midfield. For instance, Sir Alex may have a rethink in playing Nani in the big games, take for example the first goal, James Milner takes the throw to Yaya Toure, Toure to Silva; within a twinkle of an eye James Milner moves into space passing by Nani who fails to pick up his run, hence isolating Smalling and the rest is history; same goes for the other two city goals by Balotelli and Aguero. The Full Backs clearly need help as the central midfield is clearly lost and confused (more on that later), so Nani and Young need to track back. After United went a man down, Micah Richards had the freedom of the right flank as Ashley Young was nowhere near him, more so Evra obviously needs some time off, he’s completely off the pace; now the sale of O’Shea seems like a mistake as there’s little cover in that position with Fabio injured.

  • United’s Slow and Sloppy Central Midfield

Whilst the 4-4-2 formation may not be dead after all, but it begs the question why Sir Alex has all of a sudden abandoned his 4-3-3/4-5-1 (although he tried it at Anfield) as he seems content to approach games with a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 with Rooney dropping as the spare man in midfield. The truth is the two members of the central midfield (in this new look 4-4-2) have to put in a hard shift especially when outnumbered, but the same cannot be said for United’s midfield pairing particularly Anderson. Anderson was interestingly sluggish, out of pace, annoyingly one footed and rash in his decision making. His failure to pick up the run of Silva into the box for the second goal and the eventual allowance for him to make a pass to Milner just seems elementary; at some point during the second half there was a time Aguero just strolled past him, Anderson just strolled alongside him.

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Picture Courtesy-David Vandepeer

Fletcher was ok, his goal gets him some level of exoneration, but a lot depends on the wingers’ involvement in the defensive side of the game. The build up to the sending off illustrates the sloppiness of the United Midfield, United were set up in two banks of fours, City had five players behind the ball and just two advanced against United’s second bank of four, good use of the ball, players swift movement the difference and Balotelli is one on one with Evans.

What does the future hold?

Manchester City’s victory is definitely a huge statement of intent, they’d take some stopping right now, but it’s a long way yet, a marathon not a sprint, a five point lead in October can be over turned anytime; with games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal still to come, it’s going to be a really interesting season.

For United on the other hand, a serious appraisal/post-mortem of  yesterday’s collapse needs to be done and fast too; I believe it is safe to say that Rio Ferdinand’s days as a sure starter may be numbered as Smalling and Vidic (as they displayed for most of last season) may just be the way forward. United need to sort out their midfield problems and fast too as well; Anderson is too sluggish and sloppy, maybe the return to full training of Tom Cleverly may be the answer.

It’s still a long way to go yet and United have come back from similar situations and still ended up winning the league; 5-0 loss to Newcastle, 5-0 loss to Chelsea and 4-1 loss to Liverpool some seasons ago are a number of examples to show United can still get the job done in the long run.


Levante are top of La Liga, who would have ever thought that would happen.

2 Responses

  1. Evans may be bad but the way you said we sold pique to keep Evans makes it sound as if pique is world class. excuse me, but i beg to differ. he is made to look good at Barca because of the teams style of play. he is supposed to be a defender but he has no need to defend in that team as the opposition hardly have the ball. all he has to do is pass the ball between himself valdes and puyol. if he was to play in any other team his true abilities as a woeful defender would be revealed. and if you did notice the rare goals Barca do concede pique wouldnt be even in the picture.

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