At a packed and expectant Etihad Stadium, in Middle Eastlands, Manchester the champions elect met for a game of little real meaning for either Club in terms of the seasons expectation but hugely significant as a statement of whether the rise of City has now passed the fall of United to claim the crown of the best team in England.
The question was about whether the thrashing at Old Trafford was due to the sending off or the fact that the better players now belong to oil as opposed to US retail.
Setting up at 4-4-2 was a clear sign of intent, that Wayne Rooney was given a chance to prove his form of the last 3 months was due to him starting to feel unhappy again and with players in positions they understand for a change then you’d expect that we would at least test the City team, stripped of its African stars but fresh from hammering the Scousers at the same stadium only a few days before.
What the game proved was that United have reached a state of desperation, confidence is low, so is steadiness. With the news that 37 year-old Paul Scholes was returning from a timely retirement, which was brought on by his loss of his legs and his drive and his attacking prowess, it seems Sir Alex really believes Giggs and Scholes won’t be replaced by investment because the money isn’t there and so Michael Carrick and Anderson got a vote of no-confidence alongside David De Gea.
The keeper must be feeling pretty low but his replication of his form in Spain is not a surprise to anyone who has looked at the fan website of his former Club.
After a start that was scary, United took the lead against the run of play and were then helped by a generous decision by referee Chris Foy to send off City’s captain Vincent Kompany . This hurt them badly and despite City creating excellent chances we ran into half-time in a lead that had Phil Neville gloating as much as the assembled United crowd, and expectations of a 6 goal reversal were rife.
It seems Sir has lost his touch as a lack of drive and motivation from United saw 10 man City prove that the pendulum has truly swung in their favour in Manchester. We were hammered in the second half, every bit as much as we we’re at OT, and Scholes simply proved his first decision was right as he faded fast and played like a rusty boxer fights. It was not pretty.
Surely the form of Patrice Evra must be as much concern as the keeper situation and the lack of funds for midfield where we need a complete rebuild.
I do believe that in Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and the Da Silva’s we have a solid set of players with Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Nani capable of destroying most mid-table teams in the Premier league.
But that’s 8 players and the fading forces that are Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Rooney, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, and Dimitar Berbatov Berbatov alongside the form of Evra and the failing promise of Anderson, Fedrico Macheda and Mame Diouf means that Tom Cleverley and Javier Hernandez are the most improved players that haven’t played in the history of United.
It’s not enough, we have to have investment in 4 places.
We need a new high quality left back now. Everton’s Leighton Baines is the best option, buy him now.
We must replace Giggs and Scholes, with a players similar to David Silva and Yaya Toure, we need these players now, and we can’t find them unless we are in the Champions League, which means next season.
Our centre back cover is thin and Gary Cahill would be a fantastic singing.
And finally we have keeper problem and an experienced player is required, I didn’t understand why someone experienced like Brad Friedel wasn’t signed.
Sunday proved to me that City are capable of winning the league, I think Spurs will fade and Chelsea are capable of making a strong run and passing us into 3rd. At that point $200m is needed to rebuild or we will fall further.
Sir Alex, buy 2 players now, shore up the defence, lets grind out some results and fight for the title with pride, but then let’s rebuild our team fast because the best supported team on the planet cannot see oil beat tradition, what has the world come to when our form is as unsustainable as fossil fuel football.
If the Glazers are real retailers then even they must see that holding stock comes before sales and profits.
By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve