Much has been made, and understandably so, of Man City’s unbelievable 6-1 win at Old Trafford. Whether it be seismic shifts, noisy neighbours becoming suited and respected members of society, or an empire falling, everyone has come up with a grand-sounding angle for their Monday headlines and talk shows.
Here is a less-mentioned observation. Man City beat Man United. They are 5 points clear. For all we know that gap could be down to 2, and the momentum could be back with the Red Devils, and all the talk will be of false dawns. Undoubtedly Mancini’s men will take a lot of confidence from the weekend’s thrashing, and that will stand them in good stead when it comes to other strong tests throughout the season, but let’s not go crowning them champions-elect just yet. If Man City survive their Champions League group, which cannot be taken for granted, they will have to juggle an intense schedule; even more so should they fall into the Europa League and be forced into the dreaded Thursday night slot.
They may well have the raw talent, and squad depth, to handle that. But do they have the mentality – either in the playing or coaching staff, to take to that scenario like a duck to water? That is probably a fruitless debate right now, as Sunday’s match proved the unpredictability of City’s immediate potential.
Ignoring that briefly, we have the small matter of Sir Alex’s wounded animal mentality. We’ve seen it all before – someone has the gall to defeat Man United, and they come roaring back. In one match they conceded more goals at home than they did points last season. That is bound to hurt Fergie deep down, and I have respect for him for the way he faced the glare of the cameras. At his age he doesn’t need that. He could have wheeled out his assistant, as he did for so many years on BBC television. I would be shocked if United did not at least finish 2nd, as they have too much pride and ability, no matter what we may have seen this week.
Make no mistake, that was a woeful display from the red half of Manchester. An admittedly imperious Man City side, under the magical influence of David Silva, sliced through the defence at will. David De Gea’s reaction to the 5th goal told us all we needed to know about his feelings. Had it not been for him (and some profligate finishing from Dzeko), the score could have reached double figures. To see the likes of Ferdinand bypassed with such apparent ease for the 6th goal will be alarming for Sir Alex. He must surely be contemplating major surgery next summer, if not sooner, as although he clearly possesses a capable squad, some midfield authority is needed. Like their ex-title rivals Arsenal, perhaps they should have made a move for Scott Parker, or dare I say it as a Newcastle fan, Check Tiote? I’m sure Mike Ashley would jump at the chance to sell for good money! We all knew Sir Alex’s midfield needed strengthening at the start of September, no matter what the results said.
I suppose the one subtext I subscribe to after the derby rout is – there is no subtext. Three points were at stake, and they went to Man City. Should City go on to win their next league against Wolves (and only a madman would predict otherwise on current form), then those points will be equally valuable. Mancini must keep his team’s feet on the ground, and he is surely the one man you would trust with such a task.