Man United 4 Man City 2: Three talking points
Steven Prince takes a look at some of the talking points to come out of Manchester United's 4-2 thrashing of Manchester City
Moyes’ boys are leading Manchester United back into the top four
Let the hyperbole commence. Louis van Gaal masterminds a crushing 4-2 victory over Manchester United’s crosstown rivals. In truth though, the hosts outgunned Manchester City for 75 of 90 minutes in the latest instalment of the Manchester derby. Sure, van Gaal picked the right personnel, in the right formation and played the right tactics to inflict this defeat on Manuel Pellegrini’s men but one would assume that a certain Scot currently living abroad in the Basque Country holds the wryest of smiles given the key performers in this derby victory. Marouane Fellaini, whose metamorphosis from ungainly, ill-fitting piece of the midfield puzzle to key component has been nothing short of Kafkaesque after the Belgian delivered another solid performance as the season draws to its denouement. Fellaini bullied Yaya Toure and the other cast members in sky blue, and while he appears unorthodox at the best of times, Manchester City had no idea how to deal with him. Another Moyes purchase, Juan Mata, continued his impressive form with another goal, although he may have strayed offside. As Messrs Fellaini and Mata departed for Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria in the final 10 minutes, both players rightfully received rapturous applause. These ovations would have been unimaginable under the current Real Sociedad manager. And there was a certain romance in these substitutions – two Moyes purchases, both toasts of the month at Old Trafford being replaced by two van Gaal imports who have not yet hit the same heights.
Every engineer needs to play close attention to the blue prints
Manuel Pellegrini holds a degree in civil engineering, thus giving rise to the obvious nickname of ‘the engineer’ during his footballing and subsequent managerial career. After the ease at which the Chilean guided Manchester City last season, the foundations of success seemed largely in place for a repeat performance this time around, especially as just over 100 days ago, Manchester City and current league leaders Chelsea were level pegging at the summit of the Premier League. Now – there are twelve points between the two sides, with Arsenal and Manchester United encamped between the two sides who were so close on New Year’s Day. In the Manchester derby, the Citizens started in red-hot fashion, and deservedly took the lead. But then the wheels fell off spectacularly. Pellegrini must look at what he has at his disposal and summon up something rousing as Liverpool and Southampton will have their sights firmly on the faltering giants. The 61-year-old was praised for his calm exterior as he lead his side to their second Premier League title but he will need to readdress his approach to save City’s season. If not, he could be out of a job come mid-May.
Both sides need to strengthen this summer
The two sides who comprise the footballing divide in Manchester occupy places three and four in the table, but given their respective prestige and success over recent seasons, both sides should be closer to Chelsea with six games remaining. The Blues have a game in hand over their Mancunian rivals which, if Chelsea win, will put 11 and 15 points between them and Manchester United and Manchester City respectively. The two sides need to take a leaf out of Jose Mourinho’s managerial textbook and identify their weaknesses early in order to strengthen in the summer. Manchester United first – David de Gea is Manchester United’s main defence attribute and he needs a stronger defensive unit in front of him. Louis van Gaal needs to decide on a back three or four and work from back to front. The midfield is United’s strongest outfield area and the question is more akin to who does van Gaal rest and who does he start with. Perhaps one area he could address is a replacement for Michael Carrick whose years are constantly increasing. Lastly, Wayne Rooney will need an out-and-out goalscorer to complement his game. The Falcao project has failed and Robin van Persie’s talents appear to be on the wane. This will be, or should be, the club’s main summer target. For the defeated City side, if Manuel Pellegrini stays at the club, he will need to improve his midfield. Yaya Toure looked seasick whilst on a stricken vessel at Old Trafford and had little impact whatsoever. His hot-and-cold nature needs to be reviewed and a replacement for the Ivorian found. City are solid on the wings and up front, as well as in goal, but the central defence needs a new face. Vincent Kompany has had a poor season, Martin Demichelis is getting older and Eliaquim Mangala has not justified his hefty price tag. The Sky Blues however have the spectre of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play hanging over them, which may impinge on their summer spends.