Pep Guardiola’s City handed Jose Mourinho his first defeat in the Premier League in a disappointing Manchester derby on Saturday. But save a for a few bright sparks, mostly from City stars, both set of managers will know that although the win handed City three points and bragging rights, there is still work to be done, before either can claim dominance.
Manchester United seemed not ready for the tie. For a Jose Mourinho team, United were surprisingly off pace.
- They were static in every area of the pitch: the Iheanacho header that led to the first goal, and the positioning of the defenders for the second goal is a result of flat-footed defending. There were also little or no off-the-ball runs in attack.
- United were second best at first AND second balls. Man City looked sharper and more alert almost all afternoon.
- United made too many mistakes all over the pitch: misplaced passes in defence and attack, standing off players in midfield. Simply put, they handed City the keys of Old Trafford!
City lived a charmed life. As dominant as City were in the first half, the game could have ended up a high-score draw. The last five minutes saw Zlatan blow two gilt-edged chances. As romantic as the idea of a “ball-playing” goalkeeper sounds (and he did set up one of the goals with his distribution) Claudio Bravo needs to learn when to ‘play ball’ and when to simply hoof it!
And the charmed-City-life was magnified by the penalty not given. That tackle on Rooney is a red card and a penalty all day. Including Sundays. A studs-up tackle like that by an outfield player will not be forgiven, but Bravo received a get-out-of-jail card from Mark Clattenburg. A ball-playing keeper should get the same punishment given to ball players. Simple.
Eric Bailly, Kevin de Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanancho were the only stand-outs in a game that has been hyped all week. Compared to the old derbies, this game delivered little. Maybe the managers did not want to carry-over the feistiness of the La Liga days. But whatever they said to their players dampened the game, and almost took the derby atmosphere out of it…until late on.
Guardiola and City are worthy winners of the first in another era of Manchester derbies. The second meeting promises to be a lot more interesting, no matter where both teams sit on the table at the time of meeting. Until then, expect Mourinho and United to react furiously in their next game.