Opinion: What Did We Learn About City And United In The Derby Match?

       

The first thing we learnt was that José Mourinho, by his own admission, started with the wrong selection of at least two players.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan had been sent home from the Armenian squad due to an injury picked up in their first game. It was patently obvious that the derby game against Manchester City was too soon after the injury and that he hadn’t recovered sufficiently to be effective. This was shown in his sluggish first half performance which resulted in him being replaced for the second half.

Jesse Lingard, who had also recently recovered from injury was selected and was, quite frankly, awful. The reasoning behind these two selections was to give United some pace in the wide areas and keep the City full backs occupied. It didn’t work and Lingard was such an embarrassment that on two occasions he let passes straight to him trickle out of play when he completely mis-controlled the ball due to an unacceptable lack of concentration.

Of these two players Mkhitaryan will play far more good games than bad and will prove to be a very good purchase. Lingard is nothing more than average and his mental and physical lapses at important stages of the game will continue to cost United if they persist in selecting him.

       

In the second half of the game, after these two players had been replaced by Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford, United looked far more incisive and dangerous in attack. Their goal threat, however, was still minimal and this must be a concern to José Mourinho.

The next transfer window could very well see the arrival of at least one new wide player and, possibly, an experienced centre half to play alongside Bailly.

Manchester City, on the other hand can be very pleased with their day’s work. It is hard to believe that Guardiola has been there such a short time as his ideas seem to have been adapted and adopted very quickly.

From a football playing goalkeeper who can’t handle crosses, right through the team to a midfielder who becomes the main threat when Sergio Agüero isn’t available, City had it right. They were unstoppable for the first forty minutes during which time they scored their two goals, albeit thanks to sloppy defending from United.

Even in the second half when United came more into the game, Guardiola made his change to bring on Fernando and take off Iheanacho which meant City would play the remainder of the game on the counter-attack, a ploy which worked in as much as United didn’t look like scoring and City did look dangerous when they went forward.

All-in-all both managers will have learnt something from this game. The problem is that what Jose Mourinho learnt about his team is not positive, whereas Pep Guardiola is probably, quietly, very happy that everything seems to be coming together. He even managed to over praise his under performing goalkeeper who, apart from his mistake for United’s goal, should have been sent off later in the game for a studs-up challenge on Rooney. That would have resulted in a penalty and in Manchester United probably getting an undeserved point.

Normal service in the Premier League can now be resumed until the next “biggest game ever” is played at the Etihad. By that time Manchester United players will have had longer to get used to José Mourinho and his ways and Mourinho himself will have had a few more months to try and work out how to beat Pep Guardiola in the league.

       

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