When Rio Ferdinand looks back on his United career, he will perhaps regret staying on this one last season.
Though the ex-England international performed well in United’s recent home clash with Olympiakos, that was surely more owing to the limited standard of the opposition rather than his own prowess.
For the most part, whenever he’s been deemed fit enough to play, Ferdinand has looked a liability at the back for United this season, and tonight was no exception.
Though he didn’t cover himself in glory for any of the three goals City scored, the second in particular highlighted his declining defensive powers.
The veteran, throughout his career, never had the best of concentration levels, but his considerable pace significantly compensated for this flaw in his younger days.
This evening however, Ferdinand let Edin Dzeko run free from him early in the second half, and this time, he didn’t have the pace to recover, with the goal effectively ending United’s chances of a win in the process and surely ensuring that the defender’s own career will end on a sour note.
2. Fernandinho exactly the type of player that United desperately need
The Brazilian international received a Man-of-the-Match award for his efforts tonight, and he undoubtedly played a vital role in City’s win.
Fernandinho is surely the unsung hero of this City side, who invariably look significantly weaker without him in the team.
His pace, energy and tenacious work-rate gives City a vital balance, allowing the more elegant and creative (but sometimes lazy) Yaya Toure to focus more on the attacking side of the game.
Tonight, he was simply too fit, too pacy and too powerful for the likes of Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini to combat.
The United midfield being dominated in big games is a recurring theme this season — the same occurred when Jordan Henderson ran riot against them with Liverpool.
Consequently, the Red Devils are in desperate need of a player with the qualities of Fernandinho, or even Henderson, in the centre of the park.
3. Mata still yet to fully adjust to life at Old Trafford
(Mata failed to make an impact in tonight’s game)
Juan Mata’s start to life at Old Trafford has hardly been a disaster — the Spaniard was even given the club’s Player-of-the-Month award for February.
Nevertheless, like United in general, his performance tonight indicated that work needs to be done before he can fulfil his undoubted potential.
Playing more centrally than he is often deployed, the ex-Chelsea man was still a peripheral figure, badly overhitting attempted passes on more than one occasion and generally failing to influence the game in the way that’s expected of him.
Furthermore, Mata’s disappointing display was exacerbated by the performance of City’s equivalent number 10 — David Silva put in a fantastic display, consistently tormenting United, particularly in the opening stages, with his incisive passing, menacing dribbles and intelligent positioning.
4. Kompany gives defensive masterclass to keep Rooney quiet
“The best defender in world football,” was Jamie Carragher’s assessment, after watching Vincent Kompany tonight, and such praise was difficult to dismiss.
The Belgian was his usual imperious self, always reading the play impeccably and ensuring City retained their solidity with his integral leadership and organisational skills at the back.
Moreover, thanks to the defender’s constant close attention of his movement, Wayne Rooney had little impact on proceedings, to the point where David Moyes was forced to move him into central midfield in a move that had an air of desperation about it.
With Kompany at the back, City rarely look like conceding, and indeed, they haven’t let a goal in in the league since Nemanja Matic’s strike for them back at the beginning of February.
5. Moyes’ admission a harsh indictment of how far United have fallen
During his post-match interview with Sky, David Moyes uttered a painful truth that’s likely to leave United supporters cringing.
The Scottish manager conceded that Man City are currently playing to a level that United need to aspire to.
Of course, most people know that City are patently superior to United, but for Moyes to essentially admit as much was startling to hear nonetheless.
It is thus a telling measure of how far the Red Devils have fallen in less than 12 months since winning the title.
Moreover, it also suggests that Moyes recognises that there is no quick-fix solution — a long, arduous rebuilding process needs to be undertaken before they can properly compete with the likes of City again.
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