Another derby defeat for the red side of Manchester but its not all negative
Despite yet another derby defeat the majority of United fans feel positive about the performance of the team under extremely difficult circumstances. United began the game in a very positive way stringing together a large number of neat passes and completely dominating the midfield battle. United’s dominance was clear when the crowd in the Ethiad became very restless the nerves from the City fans was clear to all. Despite the good start United couldn’t really threaten City’s goal and were soon punished for that. City started to put together their quick passing game which United were clearly struggling with. Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas forced David De Gea into two absolutely brilliant saves which kept United in the game. Chris Smalling picked up a yellow card for standing in front of the City keeper Joe Hart while he was taking a goal kick. It was a really stupid yellow card to pick up and should have been avoided. Smalling put himself under pressure after that and the pressure told when Smalling slid into a reckless challenge to pick up a second yellow after 35 minutes. All of United’s hard work and the brilliance till that point of the performance was all down the train because Smalling was reckless and let his team down. When he made the challenge his face said it all he knew he was off. The red card forced Louis van Gaal into a reshuffle with Michael Carrick on for his first appearance of the season replacing Adnan Januzaj. Carrick took Smalling’s place in the central defence alongside Marcos Rojo. The last thing United needed in this game was to be down to ten men and then being forced to play a central midfielder as a centre back made the task ahead look impossible.
When the second half it was clear to see United set out to defend at all costs and counter City at the right opportunity. The team were holding out terrifically well and defended brilliantly blocking everything Manchester City threw at them. Another horrible moment for United came as Marcos Rojo suffered a dislocated shoulder after a collision with Martin Demechelis. Rojo had to be stretchered off and was replaced by 19 year old Paddy McNair for his third appearance in the senior team this season. The task was looking ominous for United who were now playing with a back four that had only Luke Shaw as the most experienced Premier League defender in the back four with Valencia and Carrick simply filling in and McNair making his third appearance. The makeshift back four couldn’t hold on and were punished by Sergio Aguero who tucked home from Clichy’s cross. The goal changed City who like Chelsea last week dropped off allowing United to go forward and test the City defence. Wayne Rooney with an incredible surging run forward tearing through the City midfield allowed Angel Di Maria to force Joe Hart into a good save. The makeshift defence of McNair and Carrick continued to defend brilliantly and wouldn’t let City get the second goal to finish United off. Louis van Gaal then made a decisive and surprising substation replacing the non existent Robin van Persie with 18 year old striker James Wilson making his 4th appearance of the season. Wilson clearly would offer more pace than van Persie who did nothing of note all game. United continued to force the issue forcing a couple of corners which Fellani had a golden chance from but his header went over the bar.
Despite the defeat to our local rivals there are a lot of positives from this game. Smalling’s dismissal put United up against it for 60 minutes of the game after a very good start. The players didn’t give up and didn’t crumble in the face of relentless Manchester City pressure. The injury to Rojo meaning Paddy McNair was forced to enter the action who was brilliant and looks a really promising player and I would say he will make the starting line-up against Crystal Palace next weekend. After the results against City last season there is such a clear improvement in the performance of the team and a clear playing style that is becoming more impressive every game. The fight and the passion was yet again clear to see with the players desperately trying to get an equaliser until the final whistle. City were the more nervous team in the final ten minutes and United put them under an enormous amount of pressure which the City fans recognized and were silent. Overall a disappointing result but a performance from the players who were on the pitch following Smalling’s red card to be really proud of and one that gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the Crystal Palace game next weekend.
My Man Of The Match: Luke Shaw