Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBlue Moon rising over Manchester - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Blue Moon rising over Manchester - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Blue Moon rising over Manchester

Obliteration, annihilation, capitulation; just a number of the adjectives best used to describe Sunday’s Manchester derby as City tore United apart at Old Trafford. It was the first real dominant display over the Red Devils since Barcelona’s 3-1 win over the Premier League champions in the Champions League final back in May. Many felt the game changed when Jonny Evan’s received his marching order at the beginning of the second half but, by this point, Roberto Mancini’s men were already 1-0 up and looking strongerafter the break.

Watching the analysis on Match of the Day showcased just how drilled the Italian’s players are, working tirelessly for each other while covering their respective quarters of the pitch to detrimental effect. On the left flank, David Silva was superb covering for Gael Clichy whenever the latter approached Nani whereas on the opposite side, James Milner would fill in for Micah Richards every time the full-back closed down Ashley Young leaving both wingers powerless in their fruitless attempts to break down the resilient City defence.

The defensive side of their game was well drilled, hardly surprising considering of the Mancini’s Italian roots. Historically, sides in Serie A have been difficult to break down dating back to Helenio Herrera’s La Grande Inter period of the sixties and what City pack in defence, they equal in attack. Silva was toying with the United back four all afternoon, making it easy for Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko to help themselves five of the six goals between them leaving the little Spaniard magician grabbing one for himself deep into stoppage time.

And it is the offensive aspect of their game that City look increasingly impressive. An abundance of talent is available at Mancini’s fingertips, made all the more extraordinary when you consider Samir Nasri only took to the field for the final 15 minutes while the Italian continues to sideline Carlos Tevez following his Champions League incident last month. But, the main men in their surge to the summit of the Premier League has got to be both Silva and Aguero. The little Spaniard was instrumental in the 6-1 hammering on Sunday, having his say in five of the six goals while Aguero is currently joint-top scorer with Wayne Rooney on nine for the season, team-mate Dzeko just one-goal behind the duo in third.

Many had predicted that this was the year that City emerge from United’s shadow, no longer considered the defending champions ‘noisy neighbours’ but rather as genuine contenders, not only as the best team in Manchester, but England as well. A 4-0 at the beginning of the season, albeit, against a recently promoted Swansea City side, got the media drooling from the off. However, it wasn’t until the Citizens tore apart both Tottenham at White Hart Lane and United over the weekend, 5-1 and 6-1 respectively, that many now deem them favourites for the title.

With that in mind, however, there form away from the Premiership has left a lot to be desired; four points from a potential nine in the Champions League, including a 2-0 footballing ‘lesson’ at Bayern Munich showed up City as a team that can be considered not yet ready for the rigours of Europe’s elite competition. This is where United hold the upper hand against their fierce rivals, with the previous experience of the competition nestled deeply into their mentality while the ability to win on the grandest stage, unless they come up against Barcelona, is, at times, second to none.

But, if the 6-1 match was anything to go by, it is that City are more than ready to compete with the Premier League’s big hitters regularly. Having completely outplayed their rivals, Mancini’s side look to have leapfrogged Ferguson’s men as the team to beat and could well become title winners before the season even comes to an end. Five points clear of United in second after nine games is an impressive feat by any standard and, having scored a staggering 33 goals already, an average of almost four a game, any fan would be hard pressed to find an English team that could stop them when they are in this kind of form.

So while the title may be staying in Manchester this season, made particularly by the way both United and City dismantled both Arsenal and Spurs, respectively, in the same afternoon, but City now looking the stronger in every position of the pitch, while having ample replacement for each player, see’s them firmly instilled as the team to deny the Red Devils their 20th first division title in the history of the English game. And if it does begin to go balls up before January, Mancini has 31 days to bring in more replacements in order to see his team labour over the finish line in first place.

Ben McAleer

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