The Manchester Derby: The Good and The Bad
The Manchester derby produced a high volume of talking points, some good and some not so good. Manchester United secured a dramatic 3-2 win and are now favourites for the Premier League title with a six point cushion.
One of the key points to come out of the match involved Rio Ferdinand. Ferdinand was hit by an object thrown by a Manchester City supporter as he celebrated United’s winner. It caused a huge cut just above his left eye.
This was not the end of the matter as a City supporter ran onto the field to confront Ferdinand and was only stopped by the instinct of City goalkeeper Joe Hart. City have since apologised but it has highlighted some basic problems in their crowd control ability.
Add to this the appalling scenes of United players being pelted with coins during the celebrations and the fact that one city fan was arrested for trying to start a racist chant and the champions don’t come out of the fixture covered in glory.
United were dominated during the opening stages of the match but managed to grab two goals via Wayne Rooney to go into the break 2-0 up. Robin van Persie then hit the post after the break with Ashley Young converting the rebound only to be incorrectly judged offside.
Van Persie didn’t have his best game in a United shirt but he was efficient and switched on at the times that mattered. His free kick winner should have been stopped but his overall performance allowed Rooney to drop into the midfield when United were under pressure.
That would have put United 3-0 up and may have caused many heads in the City team to drop resulting in what could have been a massacre similar to the 6-1 drubbing City dished out to United last season.
Although United didn’t really touch the ball for 20 minutes at the start of the match, their performance was exactly what we have come to expect from this sort of occasion under Alex Ferguson.
The United defence stayed compact and organised which forced City to play wider which is where they are weaker. They produced goals on the counter attack and it was almost like a tense Champions League away match for the visitors.
City also need to be praised for the way they came back in the second half and piled the pressure on the United goal pulling back the two goal deficit. Pablo Zabaleta even seemed reluctant to celebrate the equaliser as City were hunting for the win.
They showed good heart and spirit to comeback into the game after it looked like United were going to see things out for the three points comfortably.
However, there are a couple of problems from this match which City will need to address. Firstly, Mario Balotelli was poor. He seemed lethargic and uninterested which will be a cause for concern.
Very few would have argued when Mancini signalled for Carlos Tevez to get ready to go on after Balotelli attempted a back heeled pass in the middle of the pitch during the second half which lost City possession.
There were a couple of minor issues in terms of the defence because Wayne Rooney was allowed to drift into the space he desired for both of his goals. Yes, his first goal was scuffed in but he was surrounded by City defenders who missed the opportunity to tackle him.
They also need to question the desire of their players because United’s winner was enabled by the reluctance of Samir Nasri to get hit with the ball from a free kick.
Van Persie took a long run up and fired the ball into the wall, Nasri had turned away behind his teammates, stuck out his foot which deflected the ball beyond Joe Hart and cued the scenes of United fans going mad and the players running everywhere.
Great entertainment but unfortunately there are talking points from this match which relate to the idiocy of some City fans and take attention away from the fact that this was a brilliant game.