Manchester United 3 – 2 Manchester City
The scoreline might suggest a closely contested match with United sneaking away with a last gasp goal. The fact was United completely outplayed their city neighbours. United had 55% possession and 22 shots on goal compared to City’s paltry sum of 8 shots. The losing team’s fans might claim this to be a victory in a glorified pre-season game but this game was about making a statement.
Both teams have spent on the upwards of £50 m on new recruits, although in United’s case it was necessary given the spate of retirements at the end of last season. Unlike last year, United have recruited carefully this time around and all 3 of the new boys were on display. United set about playing a good passing game, whereas City started the game intent on breaking up play by tackling tough. United went close through Nani and Rooney but it was City who took the lead as David Silva’s dead ball was knocked in by Joleon Lescott.
Now, it’s a known fact that Silva can punt a ball on a coin and Lescott makes himself a big nuisance in the 6 yard box. He is a goal scoring defender and it was surprising to see that he sneaked in between United’s first choice central defensive pairing of Vidic and Ferdinand. Maybe Fergie buying 2 new central defenders over the last couple of years doesn’t seem like just for back-up. Ferdinand has been struggling with injuries and might get effectively replaced by Smalling or Jones by the end of this year. And it was the mis-communication between Ferdinand and De Gea that allowed Lescott to score.
De Gea has not started his United career on fire and that’s a fact. He looked a bit shaky in the pre-season games in America and he was completely at fault for City’s second goal. Dzeko’s shot was true, but could have been saved. De Gea could not and should not be judged based on his first couple of performances. But now Fergie will have to decide whether to use De Gea or Lindegaard, who was solid in the pre-season games, for the opening games of the season. Such blunders should be avoided if the Red Devils aspire to start strong.
The half-time saw Fergie throwing on Phil Jones, Tom Cleverly and Johnny Evans for Ferdinand, Carrick and Vidic and it immediately paid dividends as Smalling toe-poked the opener and Nani scored a breathtaking leveler after exchanging intricate passes with Rooney and Cleverly. De Gea atoned for his errors by keeping out a rasping drive by substitute Adam Johnson (why he doesn’t start for City beats me). Anderson bossed the midfield, playing the defensive midfield position. His link up play was excellent and his passing was precise. The £18 m paid for him now seems money well spent.
City’s array of expensively assembled attackers are yet to gel, even after almost a season of playing together and this was very evident. Kompany and De Jong were absolute beasts in winning balls and breaking play, but it was the former’s lapse in the concentration that let Nani score the winner at the last minute. Fergie would have more than satisfied with how his young team responded after going 2 down and if this seems as an indicator, the newest batch of youngsters are only going to get better. In Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverly and Chris Smalling, United are going to welcome 3 really good youngsters into their squad this seasons. Added to it is the seemingly improvement in Johnny Evans which will come as a major fillip for Fergie.
Overall, if this match was an indication, we are set for a very thrilling season ahead.