Ferguson Laments ‘Suicidal’ Defending as Blue Moon is Rising

One of the most highly anticipated Manchester derbies of all time ended in the most one sided result in the fixture since 1955. The last time City handed out this kind of beating at Old Trafford was in 1926, when they matched this 6-1 thrashing. It was United’s worst defeat at home for over 50 years and one described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the ‘Worst result in my history,’ his words could not have been more apt.

In the first 30 minutes United looked comfortable and although they did not create too many clear cut chances their goal was never threatened as City looked to settle into the game. Failure to capitalise on their early spell of control proved to be costly as some slack marking from Anderson left Balotelli with time and space to place the ball in the bottom corner just before the break to give City a 0-1 lead at half time.

The second half had barely begun when the increasingly impressive Balotelli showed Johnny Evans a clean set of heels and was bearing down on the United goal. Evans had looked shaky all afternoon and cynically brought him down. Furthermore, as the last man, he was shown a red card for his recklessness. How long Ferguson will continue to persevere with the erratic Northern Irishman remains to be seen as he seems to be developing an unsavoury penchant for losing his head in big games, Liverpool last year, and now City. Phil Jones’ form this season must have had him looking on in astonishment as to why he was not preferred in the starting line-up. Evans dismissal was always going to lead to a difficult afternoon for United, who will be left wondering what might have been had it not been for Evans stupidity, however few would have predicted what was about to unfold.

Usually, United save their best performances for when they are most up against it, but a combination of mesmeric one touch attacking play, schoolboy defensive errors and the enchanting guile and creativity of David Silva meant that United played one of the weakest looking games of football to come from Trafford in years. Ferguson’s team selection had a lot to do with this final point, his decision to show a City side boasting a trio of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and the mercurial Silva in the middle, less respect than he had shown Liverpool the previous weekend backfired spectacularly. Lining up with only Fletcher and Anderson in the middle allowed Silva the time and space to dictate the game, admittedly his thinking was not to be too defensive at home, but the days when United can dominate City are now gone, as are the days of a midfield two in games of this magnitude, Barcelona at Wembley anyone?

United were in the game for a fifteen minute spell at the start of the second half but again failed to take their opportunities and in the 60th minute City capitalised on their numerical advantage and continued kamikaze defending with two carbon copy moves of quick intricate one touch passing which culminated in two far post tap ins for Balotelli’s second and one for Sergio Aguero. This seemed to rouse United who pulled one back through Darren Fletcher however there was to be no come back, this was City’s day. United continued to launch attacks, sometimes leaving only one or two defenders back, which against a side with City’s attacking talent is, to take words from Ferguson, ‘Suicidal.’ City threatened every time they went forward, constantly exposing the holes in a United back line in which the one common denominator this season has been below par performances. It was not until the 90th minute that City accelerated away. Substitute Edin Dzeko added another, before Silva added his name to the scoresheet. Some of the movement and passing was sublime, Silvas pass to Dzeko for his second and City’s sixth was un-defendable. Confidence in the City camp must now be sky high and whilst they scored six, in truth it could have been a lot more as United fans were left deflated, and their players embarrassed.

A game which was billed as City’s chance to confirm there already strong title credentials was snatched with both hands. City have laid down a marker to anyone foolish enough to write off their chances before this game. They are serious title contenders, and with Chelsea in a period of transition it would take a brave man to bet that the winner of the Premier League title will come from outside Manchester. What is the significance of this game in the grand scheme of the title race? At this early stage of the season, probably not a lot. Is this game symbolic of a changing of the power base in Manchester? Again probably not. What it does however highlight is that anyone who did not take City seriously must now accept them as a genuine title contender and a real force going forward.

For both United and City it is important to remember that titles are not won in October, and the true test of City’s mettle will come in May, when every point counts and the tensions are running high. United must improve on there appalling defensive start to the season, whilst City will be bouncing into their next fixture. Make no mistake, this will be a close run title race, probably the most open since the inception of the Premier League, if City can reproduce the kind of sparkling heights they have reached in the opening few games and particularly this derby, their sternest test of the season so far, then there is no reason why they cannot be crowned champions come the end of the season.

Written by: Robbie Gill

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