Robbie Savage on his BBC 606 Talkshow called Manchester City a “shambles”. To have spent north of £500m in 4 years and be fielding Martin Demichelis and Jesus Navas he has a point. Even Raheem Sterling has been embarrassing of late, and that £49m piece of business looks very shrewd by Liverpool.
The ghost of Pep Guardiola is weighing very heavily on this City squad and some cynics amongst the City fans are suggesting Pellegrini is purposely or spitefully ensuring Guardiola has no Champions League. Sergio Aguero feeding off scraps is a sad and almost shameful episode to watch. Silva deployed wide and not in the No10 role has blunted his creativity no end and Aguero forages in vain.
Marcus Rashford drew all the plaudits and Manchester United seem to have two very instinctual Strikers on their hands in Rashford and Anthony Martial. Jesse Lingard had one of his best games in a United shirt, and you could sense the youth products Lingard and Rashford knew the importance of the Manchester derby.
A sublime pass by Juan Mata put Rashford through and a piece of clever footwork fooled Demichelis creating the only goal on 16 minutes. To say that Manchester City never threatened De Gea’s clean sheet convincingly in 74minutes of play at home at the Etihad in a key Manchester derby fighting for Champions League qualification, is a very damning indictment on this City squad.
Sterling went from anonymous to injured in the 24th minute being replaced by Fernando. A “hospital ball” back to Joe Hart by Martin Demichelis meant Hart pulled his calf muscle and had to be substituted by Caballaro on 50 minutes. Two forced substitutions, meant Pellegrini had only one card to play, and Demichelis replaced by Bony on 53 minutes summed up City, Bony barely conjured a chance in 37 minutes of football. City fans post match were lambasting Pellegrini for choosing Bony ahead of the in-form Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho.
Van Gaal was adroit in ensuring United kept the rear guard up introducing Schweinsteiger and Valencia for Rojo and Mata on 63 and 70 minutes respectively. United grew in confidence and Rashford and Martial play beyond their years, they are mature and composed in such a vital “must win” game.
Chris Smalling was very lucky Michael Oliver the referee never sent him off for clipping Aguero’s ankle when Smalling was already on a yellow card for pulling Aguero back in the first half. Most post match analysis was unanimous that it was a clear red card.
There are nuances in every squad, why Martin Demichelis still plays after City have spent £500m is a very weird peculiarity. Why Martin Skrtel still plays a £5.5m 2007 signing at Liverpool after Brendan Rodgers and Kenny Dalglish spent north of £400m is an equally baffling curiosity? Why Danny Blind a Midfielder plays Centre Back when Louis Van Gaal has spent £250m is another perverse curiosity.
United couldn’t have imagined strolling to an easier 3 points on Sunday morning prior to this game, City were abject and the calls for Pellegrini to be put on “gardening leave” are gaining credence. Pep Guardiola will be having a few sleepless nights in Munich watching this display from afar.