The Manchester derby, part 1

Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic are challenged by Yaya Toure (Getty)

The hype machine went into overdrive for no real reason. The derby was built up to something it was never going to be: a back-and-forth game full of scoring chances and acrobatic saves.

Have any of these commentators seen Manchester City play this season? More importantly, do they know anything about Roberto Mancini?

The problem with the general assumption that the derby would be a cracking game is that neither team is really playing that well right now. Also, City spend all of its money on defensive midfielders rather than creativity (and the one creative winger they do have – Adam Johnson – played 8 minutes). On the other hand, Wayne Rooney was out and my opinions of United’s wingers are well known. Not only that, but Michael Carrick was starting, which is never a good thing.

I figured Sir Alex would match City’s formation and try to counter-attack given his squad’s status (pay no attention to the virus claims, David Hirshey; they’re called mind games). In fact, United dominated the second half, esp. in terms of possession. I figured City would come out more aggressive, but they didn’t, partly because they’re not built that way and partly because that’s not Mancini’s style. True to form, the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Can we take any grand conclusions from this game? No, not even a little bit. Both teams played like any rational evaluator would have guessed. Neither looks like it will challenge Chelsea for the title this season because both are deeply, deeply flawed. City has delusions of grandeur, but Sir Alex knows he’s getting the most out of his players as (I hope) he looks for reinforcements.

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