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The much awaited Manchester derby lived up to the pre-match hype not only for the longstanding rivalry between the Red and Blue sides of Manchester, but for the rekindling of the estrangement between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola- ex bosses of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
With both teams having a perfect record in their first three matches preceding the derby, it was United that were massive favorites for their numbers gain at Old Trafford as it was for the malevolence of Jose Mourinho.
Overconfident and inept however, it was Manchester City that carried the day, edging off United 2-1 at their own turf on what was quite rightly an entertaining game of two halves.
As such, here are four key observations from Manchester United’s derby defeat.
Poor attacking selection by Mourinho
In quite unorthodox fashion, Jose Mourinho defied convention by claiming full responsibility over the loss.
His first aberration was awarding Jesse Lingard with a place in the starting line-up, despite having been maligned for nearly a month due to injury.
Anthony Martial- albeit ineffectual thus far into the season- would have been a better fit in the left wing.
Secondly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was included in the starting XI for the first time since moving to England, but the decision proved to be the proverbial case of the right man, in the right place, at the wrong time.
On paper, no Manchester United player had the charisma and metronomic efficiency to unlock the City defense like Micki, but the Armenian skipper was disastrously below par on the day: with Mourinho revealing the midfielder was set for an MRI the following day having picked a knock while on international duty.
Well that begs the apparent question as to why the Manchester United manager fielded him, knowing all too well he wasn’t fully fit.
Individual errors cost United a win
A person who never makes a mistake, never makes anything and for Daley Blind, his mistakes against City only made more ammo for his critics.
The 26-year old has been one of United’s stand-out performers since signing from Dutch side Ajax in 2014, with intelligence and awareness unmatched- this despite neither being the fastest nor the most physically endowed Manchester United defender.
For some reason unbeknownst to me however, his head just wasn’t in the game. He was caught flat-footed during Kevin De Bruyne’s opener, and was likewise at fault when he played Kelechi Iheanacho onside for the second goal.
City were clinical
The one bitter pill to swallow is that City were a class apart from their Manchester rivals, more so in the first half.
Pep Guardiola’s tactics were spot on, as the Citizens grabbed their chances by the scruff of the neck, that saw them annihilate United with two first half goals to show.
Claudio Bravo was sloppy in every sense of the word- and deserved a sending off and a penalty for a two-footed lunge on Wayne Rooney, but Mark Clattenberg shrugged off any and all penalty appeals from United.
The central match official was at it again, waving off penalty appeals from the home side after Nicolas Otamendi cleverly, though deliberately handled the ball inside his box.
The referee was comical in every way, shape or form, and deserves a proper telling off.
But that won’t change much now, will it?
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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