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United’s deficiencies are laid bare by City

1096459-17406945-640-360When it rains, the saying goes, it pours. United didn’t so much have to negotiate some heavy rain, rather they endured a torrential downpour as they produced one of the most abject derby performances in recent years.

A day that had started badly with the news of Robin Van Persie missing out because of a thigh strain became progressively worse as United’s limits were laid bare and repeatedly exposed by an impressive City side which, painful as it is to admit, thoroughly deserved the win and could have even scored a couple of more goals.

United, on the other hand, were never at the races. Having opted for his strongest available XI with Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney up-front and new signing Marouane Fellaini in midfield, David Moyes was criminally let down by his players who ensured the United manager’s first Manchester derby resembled a nightmare, rather than an occasion to remember.

Moyes will undoubtedly come under scrutiny after yesterday, as the defeat offers the perfect opportunity to media and fans alike to criticise the former Everton manager. If the defeat at Liverpool kickstarted rumbling of disappointments, yesterday’s result turned those rumblings into a deafening noise.

Moyes, however, has very little to be blamed for. Sir Alex Ferguson himself lost to City 5-0, 4-1 and 6-1, therefore drawing conclusions from the scoreline can be rather premature.

The manner of the defeat, rather than the scoreline, is much more worrying. From the moment Sergio Aguero met Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross and, totally unmarked, turned it into the back the next with 15 minutes gone, United never looked like bouncing back.

Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were completely nullified by Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta, while Michael Carrick and Fellaini were by-passed with systematic regularity by City’s midfield, in which Yaya Toure’ shone way too brightly as far as United were concerned and ensured City went to halftime with a two-goal lead as he pounced on Alvaro Negredo’s flick right on the stroke of halftime.

Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling were nowhere to be seen and United’s back four was lost at sea soon after the restart when Negredo held off Vidic before squaring the ball to Aguero, who made no mistake and thwarted any hopes of a United comeback.

Despite seeing a lot of the ball – United ended the game with 58% of possession – the Reds failed to produce anything vaguely resembling a chance with it. Wayne Rooney, the only United player who seemed to care about yesterday’s game and didn’t let the match pass him by, had United’s first chance of the game, but he fired over from just inside the box.

By then, however, United’s defeat had become a capitulation as City were 4-0 ahead. Jesus Navas’ was allowed way too much space and after leaving half of United’s midfield behind him, the Spaniard’s cross was met by Samir Nasri’s side-footed volley which gave David De Gea no chance whatsoever.

Marouane Fellaini managed to force Joe Hart into a good save, before Rooney produced another outstanding free-kick to somewhat limit the damage three minutes from time.

Limiting the damage seemed to be United’s main and only intent yesterday and David Moyes has now lost twice and drawn once against three of United’s main rivals, scoring only once in the process.

The learning curve is steep, probably steeper than the former Everton manager expected and definitely way too steep for some fans.