Manchester United were so bad, the gulf between these two was so vast, that Manchester City almost scored a hatful when they weren’t even trying.
If Pep Guardiola’s team wanted this to end up as the kind of slaughter that requires the use of vidiprinter supports, then that’s what it would have been.
But they declared at halftime. Arrogant, really, and that made this two-goal hit even more irritating than the 6-1 of a decade ago.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t get anything from his United players as City rampaged
Guardiola told his players to keep the ball, to make United run after him, something they are not particularly good at, it should be noted, and the points were theirs.
They attacked United for the remainder of the afternoon and City’s most brazen fan will dare to say that his team kept this at two to ensure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remained in place.
Not a single substitution because, in the words of the coach, the game was very comfortable. No one in blue needed a break – it was a 45-minute training session.
Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo cuts out a dejected figure as each week passes
Some statistics: United had four touches in the rival area. Four. At home. In a derby. It took them five minutes to cross the midline after kickoff. Insoundingly, they had more shots at their own goal than at City.
Ilkay Gundogan’s 69 touches were the fewest outfield players from Guardiola and the most of anyone wearing the United jersey.
When United are ‘back’, whatever it is, given the dwindling expectations, November 6 will become another day for their rivals to come forward and beat them. Memories of how unfair this match was, with the hosts’ boots glued to the ground, will fade.
But they were completely subjugated in a way that City can do with anyone and should not be allowed to do against “Manchester’s biggest club”, to borrow a quote from Solskjaer.
“Maybe this was the game we dominated the longest,” Guardiola said. “Except for 10 minutes in the second half, the other 80 minutes were absolutely under control.”
Hearing Guardiola start off by saying ‘let me be nice’ when asked about United’s stiff back was noticing a man taking pity on Solskjaer and it’s all a bit sad. City fans aren’t that big, rolling out their Solskjaer playlist with vim: asking him to say hi, praising his driving skills, begging wildly for ‘five more years’.
Kevin De Bruyne had the freedom of the midfield with Scott McTominay and Fred fighting
United has no other identity than that of being the team that Cristiano Ronaldo occasionally rescues because it is Cristiano Ronaldo. Two of their veteran players, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, admitted not believing and simply not being close to City level.
There is no logical reason for any of those things, other than the erosion of standards that his coach has allowed to slowly affect a team brimming with individual quality.
They do not react to events. They walk around, as both goals demonstrated when they failed to cut crosses, prompting an own goal from Eric Bailly and a rare effort from Bernardo Silva.
They couldn’t chain three passes together. Manchester’s deluge at halftime made the ball less likely to run freely, and that was completely in United’s favor.
Contrast that with the Premier League champions who, while they don’t play well at times this season, always come up with playing patterns and an idea. And attitude.
“That desire when we don’t have it, get it back and play and play,” Guardiola said. “It is not that he only attacks faster and will score more goals, you have to arrive at the right pace.
‘I love that we get to the boxes, not being in the boxes. Coming from behind is the best way to surprise the opponent and we did it. ‘
Coming from behind, yes, but City barely slipped past United. Solskjaer knew exactly what to expect, except that Guardiola started with two natural extremes rather than reversed types.
All he had to do was take a look at Crystal Palace, who was aggressive and fearless in the middle third last week. United they were the opposite. Instead, here was a helpless and scared team.
A little like a fortnight ago, do you remember that? Superficially, they could improve, they could win at Watford, but Solskjaer’s time is on loan.