Last Friday I said that Manchester City have got to lose their arrogant
streak, and it's fair to say I got that wrong.
Their performance at Old Trafford yesterday showed the good
side of arrogance - it helps you believe in yourself and feel you belong at the
Not only did City talk the talk, they walked the walk and
they thoroughly deserved a famous win.
There has been a lot of talk about a 'shift in power' but I don't think we can call that until
City have won the Premier League more than once.
That's what true dominance is - success over a prolonged
period, and nobody knows that better than Roberto Mancini who will be
looking to keep his players' feet on the ground.
Comparisons have been made to the Newcastle team who beat
United 5-0, or the Liverpool side that won 4-1 at Old Trafford, but City are
much stronger than that.
United saw off those challenges, but this one could be their
City have everything in place, and their phenomenal strength
in depth is shown by the fact they have not missed Carlos Tevez - who was
supposedly indispensable last season.
As for the result, United have nobody to blame but
themselves, particularly for the embarrassing size of the scoreline.
Of course a defeat of that magnitude always comes as a
surprise, but the signs were there.
United's defending against Norwich earlier this month was
shambolic, and they could have conceded four. They have allowed their opponents more shots than any other team.
The problem goes much deeper than Jonny Evans, who has
shouldered much of the blame for his red card.
Yes, Evans was caught out, but I don't blame him for pulling
Balotelli back. What would John Terry or Nemanja Vidic do? The same thing. Top
defenders are focused on preventing the opposition from scoring, even at the
cost of a red card.
And Evans was not responsible for the chaotic and sometimes
non-existent defending that followed his dismissal, or the total lack of fight in central midfield.
Senior pros like Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand needed to
get a grip on the situation and ensure United kept their heads - clearly they
did not do that.
Sir Alex Ferguson has already said how much this defeat has
hurt him, and Carrington will not be a happy place.
He knows when to encourage players and when to be harsh with
them, and he will be doing the latter this week.
He is not going to slap the players on the back and say
'don't worry' when so many people with big reputations have performed so far
below their potential.
This is no time to hide, and they will have to stand up and
be counted this weekend against Everton.
Goodison Park will be absolutely buzzing on Saturday, a real
test of United's mental strength.
In the past, they had individuals like Bryan Robson and Roy
Keane who could galvanise the squad, but United lack that now.
However, they have no shortage of senior professionals who
have been in tough situations before, and who can bring the team together.
City are already five points clear and United cannot afford
to lose any more ground. They need to snap out of their malaise and deliver an
Saturday's game at Everton looks like a fixture of immense