In a dazzling display of football prowess, Manchester City humiliated their neighbors, Manchester United, in a resounding victory that had fans serenading the sky-blue side of Manchester.
Chants of “Mind the gap,” “Old Trafford is falling down,” and the triumphant “we’ve got Guardiola” echoed through the Etihad Stadium as the Cityzens swatted aside a lackluster United side, leaving fans of the Red Devils lost for words.
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Erik ten Hag, the architect of United’s struggles, fell short of giving the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton the victory he would have yearned for, or even a performance worth watching.
United lacked a consistent creative plan while facing an opponent, Manchester City, who oozed confidence and creativity.
The first half of the derby showcased glimpses of a bygone era, with both teams vying for control. However, it didn’t take long for the reigning champions to tighten their grip on the game and expose a United side left floundering.
The turning point arrived when Phil Foden neatly tapped in a selfless assist from Erling Haaland. The goal triggered an exodus of United fans from the stands, mirroring the dismay they felt about their team’s state.
Haaland, the Norwegian sensation, showcased his goal-scoring prowess with a first-half penalty and a second goal, expertly steering a dipping Bernardo Silva cross into the net.
With 11 Premier League goals to his name, Haaland solidified his reputation as one of the league’s most lethal strikers.
The blame for United’s disarray must rest squarely on the shoulders of Erik ten Hag. After 17 months and three transfer windows, he has assembled a team devoid of a clear game plan, riddled with low-grade players.
The choice of defenders for this crucial match epitomized the manager’s questionable decision-making.
The absence of Raphaël Varane, labeled a “tactical” decision, raised eyebrows, especially when Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, and Diogo Dalot were named in the starting lineup.
Haaland’s second goal, where Lindelöf, an unusual choice for left-back, lost track of the striker, exposed the flaws in Ten Hag’s strategy. Sergio Reguilón, a natural left-back, sat on the bench until the 73rd minute, too little, too late.
In contrast, Manchester City deserved abundant praise for their dominant performance.
Guardiola’s side showcased a stellar lineup of performers, including John Stones, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Erling Haaland, Rodri, and Julián Álvarez. They seized control after a brief glimpse of slick possession and movement from United.
Ten Hag, despite describing the first half as “toe-to-toe,” failed to mount a substantial challenge. Manchester City tightened their grip on the match, leaving United gasping for air.
A botched long ball from Onana and a penalty awarded by Paul Tierney following a VAR review saw Haaland put City in the lead.
As fans streamed out of Old Trafford, City supporters had yet another chant to torment their counterparts: “United’s fans were watching the champions.”
This victory showcased the gulf in class between the two Manchester clubs and left United fans yearning for the glory days embodied by Sir Bobby Charlton.
Before kick-off, a banner at the Stretford End celebrated Charlton as “The finest English footballer the world has ever seen.” How United could have used his genius on the pitch, as they were soundly defeated by their city rivals.