Manchester Derby: Manchester City Are Now Better Than Manchester United

Now that Roberto Mancini has taken the handbrake off, Manchester City have sped past rivals United, whose second gear stagnation culminated in a humbling car crash.
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Now that Roberto Mancini has taken the handbrake off, Manchester City have sped past rivals United, whose second gear stagnation culminated in a humbling car crash.

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United in spirit if not in name, City won the pride of Manchester stakes at a canter in a seminal victory which anointed them as Premier League favourites.

Driving back from Sunday’s Manchester derby, in the distance fireworks enlightened the twilight skyline. How apt and fitting that the denouement to Mario Balotelli’s wild weekend ended as it had started, with a couple of firecrackers in City’s 6-1 evisceration of United sandwiched in between. For City supporters who had clung on to the memory of the 1989 5-1 derby win at Maine Road, they could be forgiven for setting off some pyrotechnics to signify the club’s shooting star.

Prior to the fixture, some pundits identified the game as an opportunity for the Blues to lay down a marker when they had already done that via the signings of Kun Agüero and Samir Nasri. Boring City had received some rocket fuel to propel them into the pantheon of English football’s best attacking sides, and although it is only late-October, their progress hitherto has been startlingly impressive.

That touchline feud Balotelli and coach Roberto Mancini had in Los Angeles was the watershed moment for this new City side. Mancini was an unnecessary killjoy that afternoon in the searing Californian heat, but there has been a shift in his approach towards the Italian striker; whose roguish charm now appears to be indulged to devastating effect. Discounting Balotelli and the disruptive Carlos Tévez, the Citizens boast an array of attackers that have quickly functioned irrespective of personnel or formation, while their Italian coach has seemingly lightened up with the aid of the master’s handbook.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides in the past have oozed ruthlessness and arrogance, but there was something striking about Mancini marching his players in from the warm-up. It embodied a togetherness that hasn’t usually been synonymous with the club – and is traditionally reserved for their city rivals – since the arrival of the ex-Internazionale coach in December 2009, and signalled a united front away from the controversy of Tévez-gate.

Mancini’s side had scored a minimum of two goals in every league game this season, and if that wasn’t a noteworthy stat of caution, United’s recent displays should’ve sounded the alarm bells. Since and including their flattering 3-1 defeat of Chelsea, United have had warning shots fired at them by Stoke, Basel, Norwich and Liverpool that suggested a hiding was belated yet preventable.

Yet with one slip and a cool finish, carnage commenced. Jonny Evans then surpassed his lapse to allow Balotelli to give City a half-time lead by deciding to ignore the essence of football (ie. going for the ball) and be preoccupied with outmuscling his tormentor. Only his tomfoolery saw him sent off and acted as the sucker punch which set in motion the capitulation.

Guiltily I headed towards the exit before loyalty overwhelmed any sense of function, as instead I gauged the severity of what was unravelling.

At 4-1 down although it was an appalling result it was nothing not seen before (Liverpool spanking United in March 2009), but when David Silva slotted in the fifth, the shock was so severe and surreal it genuinely felt like a bad dream. Only in Moscow had such a sensation came upon me when John Terry hit the post when he could have won the European Cup – the shock factor was so overwhelming that my stunned state couldn’t even afford to celebrate the turning point.

While Silva wheeled away, one expected Old Trafford to start collapsing now that I was lucid amidst this nightmare; so perfect was Ariadne’s architecture of the scenario. But a spinning top would have only stressed the reality, so guiltily I headed towards the exit before loyalty overwhelmed any sense of function, as instead I gauged the severity of what was unravelling in the aisle prior to the coup de grâce courtesy of Edin Džeko, albeit thanks to a flimsy David de Gea.

One United supporter, probably high on LSD, stressed at 0-3 that it wasn’t over because of the 1999 Champions League final, so when Darren Fletcher made it 3-1 mild optimism spread. But as any football supporter will tell you, it’s the hope that kills you. The circumstances for City’s second trio of goals – all in stoppage time – bore resemblance to lunchtime football at school when in the last few minutes one team loses players because most have left for afternoon registration. The Reds were rounded upon ruthlessly by City, just as Mancini had demanded last month.

Although the sending off signified damage limitation for United, they were already getting overrun and overawed by City as another midfield partnership’s death sentence was passed – it's Ferguson’s Kryptonite, so inept has his tactics and selections been regarding the area in the last few seasons. On an individual basis too, Rio Ferdinand is like a lamb without his shepherd whenever playing without Nemanja Vidic, while contributing to his malaise is a breathtakingly unprofessional attitude. He did however modestly not attend the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ clash at Wembley after yesterday’s chastening defeat, curbing (temporarily) his increasingly frivolous football career.

City on the other hand provided the evidence that they are, for the first time in decades, better than United with the impudence and gall to not even field their strongest XI. Their squad remains flawed in defence but Mancini has the recipe for success after the major summer acquisitions rectified the balance of aesthetes and artisans. Silva, who United bid for in 2008, is a snip at £24m and his every caressing of the ball surely intensifies the regret at Old Trafford, whose hierarchy apparently regarded said playmaker and price as representing ‘no value’. He’s currently the third best player in the world.

Taught a footballing lesson by United in the Community Shield, City have responded with guile and grit in the last two months, and they now lay claim to being the best team in England. A chant aired often only to act as a false dawn, this time City are back.

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Driving back from Sunday’s Manchester derby, in the distance fireworks enlightened the twilight skyline. How apt and fitting that the denouement to Mario Balotelli’s wild weekend ended as it had started, with a couple of firecrackers in City’s 6-1 evisceration of United sandwiched in between. For City supporters who had clung on to the memory of the 1989 5-1 derby win at Maine Road, they could be forgiven for setting off some pyrotechnics to signify the club’s shooting star.

Prior to the fixture, some pundits identified the game as an opportunity for the Blues to lay down a marker when they had already done that via the signings of Kun Agüero and Samir Nasri. Boring City had received some rocket fuel to propel them into the pantheon of English football’s best attacking sides, and although it is only late-October, their progress hitherto has been startlingly impressive.

That touchline feud Balotelli and coach Roberto Mancini had in Los Angeles was the watershed moment for this new City side. Mancini was an unnecessary killjoy that afternoon in the searing Californian heat, but there has been a shift in his approach towards the Italian striker; whose roguish charm now appears to be indulged to devastating effect. Discounting Balotelli and the disruptive Carlos Tévez, the Citizens boast an array of attackers that have quickly functioned irrespective of personnel or formation, while their Italian coach has seemingly lightened up with the aid of the master’s handbook.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides in the past have oozed ruthlessness and arrogance, but there was something striking about Mancini marching his players in from the warm-up. It embodied a togetherness that hasn’t usually been synonymous with the club – and is traditionally reserved for their city rivals – since the arrival of the ex-Internazionale coach in December 2009, and signalled a united front away from the controversy of Tévez-gate.

Mancini’s side had scored a minimum of two goals in every league game this season, and if that wasn’t a noteworthy stat of caution, United’s recent displays should’ve sounded the alarm bells. Since and including their flattering 3-1 defeat of Chelsea, United have had warning shots fired at them by Stoke, Basel, Norwich and Liverpool that suggested a hiding was belated yet preventable.

Yet with one slip and a cool finish, carnage commenced. Jonny Evans then surpassed his lapse to allow Balotelli to give City a half-time lead by deciding to ignore the essence of football (ie. going for the ball) and be preoccupied with outmuscling his tormentor. Only his tomfoolery saw him sent off and acted as the sucker punch which set in motion the capitulation.

At 4-1 down although it was an appalling result it was nothing not seen before (Liverpool spanking United in March 2009), but when David Silva slotted in the fifth, the shock was so severe and surreal it genuinely felt like a bad dream. Only in Moscow had such a sensation came upon me when John Terry hit the post when he could have won the European Cup – the shock factor was so overwhelming that my stunned state couldn’t even afford to celebrate the turning point.

While Silva wheeled away, one expected Old Trafford to start collapsing now that I was lucid amidst this nightmare; so perfect was Ariadne’s architecture of the scenario. But a spinning top would have only stressed the reality, so guiltily I headed towards the exit before loyalty overwhelmed any sense of function, as instead I gauged the severity of what was unravelling in the aisle prior to the coup de grâce courtesy of Edin Džeko, albeit thanks to a flimsy David de Gea.

One United supporter, probably high on LSD, stressed at 0-3 that it wasn’t over because of the 1999 Champions League final, so when Darren Fletcher made it 3-1 mild optimism spread. But as any football supporter will tell you, it’s the hope that kills you. The circumstances for City’s second trio of goals – all in stoppage time – bore resemblance to lunchtime football at school when in the last few minutes one team loses players because most have left for afternoon registration. The Reds were rounded upon ruthlessly by City, just as Mancini had demanded last month.

Although the sending off signified damage limitation for United, they were already getting overrun and overawed by City as another midfield partnership’s death sentence was passed – the area is Ferguson’s Kryptonite, so inept has his tactics and selections been regarding it in the last three seasons. On an individual basis too, Rio Ferdinand is like a lamb without his shepherd whenever playing without Nemanja Vidic, while contributing to his malaise is a breathtakingly unprofessional attitude. He still immodesty attended the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ clash at Wembley after yesterday’s chastening defeat, which further illustrates his frivolous football career.

City on the other hand provided the evidence that they are, for the first time in decades, better than United with the impudence and gall not to field their strongest XI. Their squad remains flawed in defence but Mancini has the recipe for success after the major summer acquisitions rectified the balance of aesthetes and artisans. Silva, who United bid for in 2008, is a snip at £24m and his every caressing of the ball surely intensifies the regret at Old Trafford, whose hierarchy apparently regarded said playmaker and price as representing ‘no value’. He’s currently the third best player in the world in the best team in England. City are back.