Three Key Points to Take From the Manchester Derby

Manchester City breezed to a comfortable 3-0 derby win at Old Trafford, with Erling Haaland scoring twice and Phil Foden adding another goal. 

The stats reveal a sorry state of affairs for United as City’s dominance since Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 is quite telling. Guardiola’s side have amassed 145 more points, 60 more Premier League wins, and 229 more goals than United. 

We look at the key talking points from the latest Manchester derby, exploring what went wrong for United and why City appeared so comfortable.

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#1. Ten Hag yet to know his best team, if any

The United manager’s tactical decision to start Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans, rather than Raphael Varane and Sergio Reguilon, aimed to adapt to the game. They initially employed a diamond formation that allowed Scott McTominay to link up with Rasmus Hojlund, a target for direct passes. While this approach showed some glimpses of hope, the switch to a short-passing game after falling behind lacked cohesion due to the absence of left-footed defenders.

United’s late goals trend continued, with more goals scored in the final 15 minutes (four) than in the first 75 minutes (three) this season. Manager Erik ten Hag appears to grapple with balancing possession and attack while trying to avoid losses against the Big Six, but he won’t be getting that right until he can find his team’s identity.

Sunday’s derby was one of the most featured events across the top betting companies in Uganda, with most punters heavily relying on previous trends that Ten Hag does not seem to fix. City exploited United, creating seven significant scoring chances, matching the most conceded since the 2018-19 season, akin to the 6-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in 2020.

This marked the first time United allowed 10 shots on target since their 6-3 defeat to City, highlighting ongoing tactical challenges.

#2. United desperately need a striker

Trailing 2-0 and needing a comeback, Manchester United didn’t penetrate Manchester City’s penalty area until the 65th minute, highlighting their persistent lack of offensive drive. Despite having a few chances, United managed only seven shots with three on target, while City attempted ten.

Rasmus Hojlund, though swift, made little impact on the game, apart from conceding a penalty. Manager Erik Ten Hag substituted him in the 73rd minute, a decision that clearly didn’t sit well with Old Trafford fans.

Marcus Rashford, donning custom Nike boots, did not fair any better. His best chance came in the second half, where he couldn’t find the target despite excellent ball control and getting past Kyle Walker. His last goal for United came in their 1-3 defeat to Arsenal on 3rd of September.

#3. Mason Mount is not the player Ten Hag believed he was… At least for now

Ten Hag pushed hard to bring Mason Mount to Manchester United, even giving him the iconic No. 7 shirt and hailing him as a “complete midfielder” to boost the team’s dynamism. However, Mount’s early performances at Old Trafford fell short of expectations, leading to widespread doubts. 

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Mount’s introduction at halftime in the Manchester derby had limited impact on City’s attacks. He seemed somewhat out of place in a team lacking specialist midfielders.

Ten Hag’s plan for Mount to energize United’s high pressing was complicated by his simultaneous substitution of Sofyan Amrabat, a safety net against City’s late runs. United fans continue to question the extensive pursuit of Mount without finding a clear answer.

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