It’s official – Man City have hit the jackpot with their riches. The derby itself between the two sides of Manchester was a record breaker for all involved; the heaviest defeat United had ever felt in the Premier League and their worst home defeat since 1955, while it was the first time City had scored 6 goals in a Manchester derby since 1926. Both the final score and the performances of both sides led to widespread speculation about whether power really had shifted from one side of Manchester to the other.
Without doubt, City have grown and flourished into a formidable team. The club, backed by Sheik Mansour’s finances, have bought of squad of enormous potential and international talent in every single position, with arguably the best player in the league at the moment in the form of David Silva. However, to focus on one player individually is to take away from their tremendous ability and their attacking play in recent games has been undoubtedly good.
In terms of the workrate shown by all of City’s players during the match, none of them can be faulted. Micah Richards produced a man of the match performance, bombing from box to box, defending his flank and the next minute producing passes and crosses into dangerous areas. Despite his questionable role as a winger, James Milner’s performance was nearly faultless, proving to be an ever willing aid in defence and assisting both of Mario Balotelli’s well taken goals. Even chief playmaker David Silva helped out Gael Clichy in defence and substitute Edin Dzeko added two goals after coming off of the bench. Up until the dying minutes of the game, City were simply ruthless in attack.
While the focus will stay on the final score, it doesn’t tell the full extent of the game. The simple fact was that in spite of City playing well, United were at their very, very worst. Accusations went flying that Rio Ferdinand was past it and no longer had the quality to play in a title winning side. Despite the performance on Sunday, to jump to such conclusions is to ignore the countless matches of hard work he has contributed to and the fact Ferdinand looked in no way match fit. Questions will be asked of Jonny Evans after he was left chasing shadows all around the United penalty area, and his red card capped arguably his worst performance for the club.
Even in attack, United were nowhere near their best. Anderson and Darren Fletcher were virtually spectators for most of the match, contributing little in any area of the pitch (besides a very well taken goal by Fletcher). In the flanks Nani and Ashley Young looked absolutely devoid of ideas of how to beat Clichy and the ever willing Richards. Danny Welbeck (and eventually his substitute Javier Hernandez) was left to feed on scraps of service upfront while Wayne Rooney struggled to urge his team on amidst the dirge of their collective performance.
Whether this was a freak one-off performance from United or is a signal of their overall decline is still to be seen. However, it is still worth noting that part of the reason Alex Ferguson’s side have won the Premier League 12 times since its creation is down to his continued ability to replace players when needed. Star players have left the club only to be replaced by new and young talent. What Roberto Mancini’s team needs to remember is that there is still a long way left till the end of the season, and whether they can produce quality such as their performance on Sunday week in, week out remains to be seen.
Has the balance of power changed? Most definitely. Will Fergie’s men recover? Time will tell.