Posts Tagged ‘ Manchester United ’

Manchester is Blue… For Now

-by M

it has taken an utter humiliation to Manchester United to revive this dying site. As United fans wake up today hoping it was all just a very bad dream, it is still early days yet for the title to be decided. City have an outstanding goal difference and are now 5 points clear at the top but have yet to play the teams around them apart from United. A clearer picture will emerge after the busy weeks of Christmas and New Year, but yesterday belonged to the blue side of Manchester.

There is no doubt that the better team won on the day. City went to Old Trafford with a game plan and executed it to perfection in the first half. United had the bulk of possession but did nothing productive with it. Nani and Young were toothless on the wings and the workhorse midfield of Anderson and Fletcher were unable to break down a resolute defensive wall of Toure, Barry, Lescott and Kompany.

After Evans was sent off, the result did not look in doubt but for a brief period of five minutes after Fletcher miraculously emerged from the shadows of the game to plant the ball in the back of the net to make it 3-1. After that, it was just a horror movie for United fans directed and starred by David Silva.

United fans may find the scoreline harsh but in reality, 6-1 was probably reflective of the gulf in class and ability on the day. While United have classy wingers in the form of Young and Nani, a midfield of Anderson and Fletcher will never match up to City’s midfield which is run by the little Spaniard, Silva. Unless Tom Cleverley is the Chosen One, United will do well to add one or two central midfielders into their team come January.

Defensively, Ferguson will have to take a good hard look at his long-serving players. But for a moment of idiocy, Evans was the better defender in the first half with Ferdinand looking decidedly nervous with Aguero keeping him occupied. Stand-in captain, Patrice Evra, had an absolute shocker and as most United fans will tell you, he has been abysmal for a while already. 4 out of 6 of City’s goals came down the left flank of United. For Silva’s goal, Welbeck ended up being where Evra should have been.

Yesterday was in all probability a freak result. However, it is a strong statement of intent by Manchester City that should be heeded by all in the footballing community. Contrary to popular belief, it is looking increasingly likely that money can indeed buy success. Manchester will be painted blue for now. But count on the Red Devils to reclaim the bragging rights at the City of Manchester.

 

10 Conclusions: Manchester United vs Chelsea

-by M

– What a game it was. It was not a technically superior game with Ramires’ and Torres’ miss (more on those later) as well as Rooney’s fluffed up penalty. But this game had everything a neutral could ask for. Controversial goals, Nani’s wonder strike from range,  feisty tackles, penalties. The only thing missing was probably a red card but that would have marred the game wouldn’t it?

– Chris Smalling was definitely offside. But Chelsea should have done so much better defensively. Young’s ball was superb and even if Smalling was not there to head it in, he had Jonny Evans behind him to tap it home for United’s opening goal.

– How good was Fletcher on his first Premier League in months? His facial hair and dynamism in midfield had D squealing like a little girl (Fletcher is his favourite United player) and it is always nice to see a player come back and perform well after a couple of months out. He was tidy in midfield, keeping the United engine ticking. And thankfully, he did. Anderson had a mediocre game by his recent performances and would be happy that it was Fletcher and not Carrick partnering him in midfield.

– How did Ramires not equalize for Chelsea only he would know. While some questioned Torres’ confidence in not taking the shot when he could, I felt he did the right thing by squaring the ball to Ramires who really should have buried it. No ifs or buts. De Gea did well to scramble across but really, Chelsea should have been on level terms.

– Take a bow, Nani. That was a goal worthy of winning any game. A player not short on confidence, he was almost untouchable after that wonder goal. As D said, “That is how you hit a ball.”

– I feel a little sorry for Torres. After his goal, you could tell his confidence was growing. He was an absolute nuisance to the United backline and his finish was sublime, dinking the ball over De Gea. But all that will be forgotten with THAT miss. He did everything right but I’m sorry, he should have finished it. I could have put it in the back of the net. Its cruel for him especially after scoring a good goal and you could tell he was regaining his confidence. That miss will crush anybody, let alone a player desperately short on confidence and luck.

– 12 months ago, Rooney would have been absolutely livid with himself if he scuffed that penalty ala Terry in Moscow. Yet, the man managed a wry smile and got on with his game thereafter. If Torres is a man short of confidence, Rooney is clearly full of it at the moment. Its almost as if he goes into every game knowing he will score. That is a scary thought for any non-United fan.

– Did anyone else see Evans’ rage Carrick in the second half? Evans passed the ball to Carrick, who had no opponent within 10 yards of him, but proceeds to make a  back pass to De Gea. Evans couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. Its almost as if Carrick doesn’t want the ball at times and that is why he should not be anywhere near the United first XI.

– Despite the result, Chelsea performed well. The only difference was the quality/confidence of the strikers in both teams. Had Chelsea had an in-form Torres or Sturridge, United might not have been victorious. The numbers state it all. Chelsea had 22 shots on goal against United’s 14. De Gea made 7 saves to Cech’s 3.

– Juan Mata is the key to Chelsea’s success this season. The little Spaniard has a similar style to David Silva and clearly, he was pulling the strings for Chelsea last night. Lampard was taken off at half time. Is it the beginning of the end for Fat Frank?

– Phil Jones is an absolute beast. While he was caught ball watching for Torres’ goal, he was once again, outstanding. Imperious in defence and equally brilliant going forward, United’s 3rd goal was a result of his willingness to step forward from defence with the ball. Young and De Gea have been pretty solid so far for United but for me, Jones has surpassed expectations with his performances in a United shirt. I would not be surprised if he won Young Player of the Year if he keeps this up for the remainder of the season.

Weekend Review

-by D 

Football is a curious game isn’t it. In the result-orientated world of football and to a lesser extent, life, it’s not about the number of chances that one creates or the manner in which the opportunity is born, it is about whether we make those chances count. United, Spurs and Blackburn did whilst Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Fernando Torres did not.

For Arsenal, their defensive fragility and puzzling inability to defend set pieces saw them throw away a game that they had in the bag. One would have thought purchasing an experienced 6’7 German international in Per Mertersacker would solve their woes at the back.
Blackburn certainly didn’t think so and took full advantage of the London side’s weakness at the back as the Yak( see what i did with the rhyme) and Martin Olsson pummeled them with strength and pace. Not that Yakubu’s deft opener was about any of that but still, it doesn’t take much to breach Arsenal’s defence these days.
Stars players may come and go, but this lack of defensive solidity has been a chronic issue that will continue to deny them success. How Wenger and Arsenal fans must have hoped that the opposing centre-back pairing of Scott Dann and the man-mountain, Christopher Samba, were in the red and white instead of the blue and white.
Still, it was nice to see Wenger maintain his sense of humour, as he quipped, “We scored six goals and lost”. Following another pathetic fantasy week, I’m incapable of such graciousness.
As Arsenal’s self-implosion continues to evolve, lovers of schadenfreude should turn their attention to Liverpool’s faltering revolution.
A 4-0 defeat to a potential top-four contender after having two men sent off for silly fouls and your best defender hauled off due to injury in the first-half was the stuff of nightmares for Liverpool fans.
Utterly slow off the blocks and lacking any form of attacking impetus, Liverpool got what they deserved. A few glaring tactical flaws, which in fairness, are only apparent on hindsight, cost Dalglish’s side dearly.
Although Gareth Bale has had a quiet season so far, that lad still can run exceedingly fast. Like real fast. If there were a time to play Dirk Kuyt on the right, this would be it. Especially so if your right-back is a centre-back and even more so if your team goes down to 10 men.
Kenny goes ahead and plays Andy Carroll on the right after Charlie Adam’s sending off. Martin Skrtel and Andy Carroll could not be any squarer pegs in round holes.
Naturally, Liverpool were torn apart by a swashbuckling Spurs side who look like they have gotten over their teething problems. A huge part of their rejuvenation is down to the purchase of Scott Parker, whose tenacity, experience and defensive nous has given their top-heavy side of attacking talents a nice balance.
Just ask Luka Modric, who had the freedom to roam forward and unleash a stunner from 20 yards out past a hapless Reina thanks to Parker’s steady presence behind him.
Further, Emmanuel Adebayor is still in the stage at his new club when his actually gives a damn and a Adebayor who puts in the effort is a pretty scary proposition for any defender. His hold-up play, distribution and finishing was simply exceptional.
And speaking of teams which are on the rise, the top dog for the past twenty years, Manchester United, continue to show how its done. Its hard for me to even type this but its true.
Demonstrating their new brand of intricate passing football, which is fused with Ferguson’s traditionally strong emphasis on wing-play and carried out at breakneck speed, United won the game in a ruthlessly clinical manner – three goals were scored from three attempts in the first-half.
The first, an emphatic header from a wonderfully whipped cross that appeared a tad offside but was never going to be ruled out because well, it’s Old Trafford and Manchester United, they will do whatever they want.
However, there is no doubting the veracity of the second goal, which has to be one of the goals of the season as Nani gently took down a 40-yard cross field ball, slalomed past three players and rifled it into the top corner from 25 yards out.
That, my friends, is how you strike a ball.
The third was slightly fortuitous -a hashed clearance by John Terry ricocheted off a Chelsea defender into the path of an unmarked Wayne Rooney-  but irrelevant because they put the ball in the back of the net and that’s all that matters.
Which is why Ramires and to a larger extent Fernando Torres, will be rueing their respectively glaring misses for years to come. Chelsea were the better side for most parts of the game but sadly, results aren’t determined by the means.
Games are won and lost and limited chances and the only reason that United and Sir Alex have been at the top of the game is because they take those chances. Winners do that.
And as we welcome yet another miserable week of work and League Cup football, it seems that the ultimate winner is English football. Like Manchester United, they are a brand that never fails to deliver. Exhilarating, high-quality action week in, week out.
Until next week then chaps.

Manchester United Tear Arsenal A New One

-by M with help from D

As Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal the end of the game,  there were no wild scenes of celebration by Manchester United players. Despite beating arch-rivals Arsenal by a record scoreline of 8-2.

It was almost as if the dire situation Arsenal F.C are currently in dampened the celebratory mood amongst the players. Somber handshakes were interchanged and consolatory pats on the back of Arsenal players were dished out by the United players. One wonders what kind words Wayne Rooney offered to Wojciech Szczensy then.

The bigger question however, still persists- how does Arsene Wenger lift his team up from such a terrible, morale-sucking defeat? It was not as if Arsenal were expected to come away with a result against a United side who were so rampant against Tottenham last weekend.

Devastated by injuries and suspensions to key players, coming away from Old Trafford with a point would still have been realistic after a confidence-boosting mid-week win over Udinese that secured the North London’s side entry to the Champions League group stages.

However, even the most pessimistic Arsenal fans would not have been able to imagine the kind of punishment United were about to dish out on their side. Rihanna’s “S&M” comes to mind for Arsenal fans looking for a song to accompany the repeat telecast.

The gulf in class was encapsulated by the polarizing benches both teams set out. United’s bench oozed of quality and experience. Being able to call upon a substitutes such as Dimitar Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji Sung, Fabio, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard was simply frightening.

On the opposite end, Arsenal’s bench of Lukasz Fabianski, Marouane Chamakh, Henri Lansbry, Gilles Sunu, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ignasi Miquel and Oguzhan Ozyajup was frightening as well; for the Arsenal fan that is.

And as the match began, the gulf in class became a chasm.

The tone of the match was set in the first 10-15 minutes as United were clearly the dominant force in the game. Despite being outnumbered in the engine room, the energetic duo of Cleverley and Anderson completely outran the patched-up midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

After Welbeck nodded in the opening goal after Arsenal’s backline failed to clear their lines quick enough, Arsenal fans knew that they were in for a long night.

Having said that, Arsenal had their chances. After Walcott was felled in the box by Jonny Evans, Van Persie had the chance to level the scoreline only for his dreadful penalty to be saved by David De Gea. Had the Dutchman levelled the proceedings then, the game may not have slipped away as drastically as it did.

And if you don’t take your chances at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will punish you. The irrepressible Ashley Young trotted up the pitch soon after and unleashed a screamer from 20 yards out that bent past Szczesny and into the top left hand corner.

From then on, the flood gates were well and truly opened. Rooney made it 3-0 with a delightful freekick in to the top corner before Walcott somehow managed to squeeze a shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 3-1 before the break.

The Spanish goalkeeper had a decent game in goal but was once again culpable for conceding Arsenal’s first goal. If there was a chink in United’s armour, De Gea has to be it.

Arsenal threatened United in the first few minutes of the second half, prompting optimistic Arsenal fans to hope for what would have been an amazing comeback. However, Rooney dashed the Gunners’ hopes with another brilliantly executed free kick. Whatever Wenger said in the dressing room at half-time became irrelevant.

In a 6 minute blitz thereafter, Nani produced a cheeky dink over Szczesny to make it 5-1 before Park, who was barely on the pitch for 5 minutes, tucked the ball into the bottom of the net with a left foot finish.

Van Persie’s goal was scant consolation for the Gunners as Carl Jenkinson, who is clearly not ready to play week in week out for Arsenal yet, was sent off for hauling down Hernandez. Rooney sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Young, who must surely be United’s man of the match despite Rooney’s hat-trick, finished the scoring with another sublime curler from the edge of the box.

So where do both teams go from here now?

For Manchester United, the skies, or Barcelona, seem to be the limit. Ruthless, free-flowing and intricate passing football played at a breakneck pace characterizes United’s play while promising youngsters in Welbeck, Cleverly, Jones and Smalling continue to shine.

For Arsenal, the pressure just keeps mounting. Lying 17th in the table with eight senior players out due to injuries and suspensions, a beckoning international week is not what they need as there is as good as a chance as any that key players such as Robin van Persie will return injured.

Furthermore, two wins from the last 14 matches since their Carling Cup meltdown suggest that their slump started way before the season begun.

Having said that, it is still early days and the footballing fratenity’s propensity to celebrate and panic is irrationally high. Time will tell if United’s class of 2011 is the greatest of them all but Wenger may not be able to stay that long to see that.

10 Conclusions: West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United

-by M

1. Manchester United’s performance was decent but nowhere near the brilliant second half they served up at Wembley last week. They started well off the blocks and looked to have West Bromwich pinned back for the first 10 minutes but they let West Bromwich back into the game after Rooney’s opening goal. Second half performance was not all that great as Ferdinand and Vidic struggled to cope with the immense Somen Tchoyi and West Brom’s record signing Shane Long.

2. On the other hand, West Brom were unlucky to have left the Hawthorns with nothing to show for. Despite a shaky start, they grew into the game and managed an equalizer despite being pinned back for most of the first 30 minutes. Somen Tchoyi led the line fantastically, using his strength against Fabio well and Long was making a nuisance of himself with the United defenders all day.

3. De Gea should have done much better for West Brom’s equalizer. It does not matter that De Gea’s only 20 years old, goalkeepers at that level of football should be saving those all day long. Long did well to create a yard of space against Smalling to squeeze his shot through but De Gea had it covered only for the ball to squirm under his body. While there is no doubt about the Spaniard’s pedigree, he did look decidedly nervous on his debut and would have been rattled by the physicality of the English game. If De Gea is to be successful in the United shirt, he surely needs to work more on the physical aspect of his game.

4. And he needs to shave.

5. Ashley Young was probably United’s stand out performer. He was brilliant on the left wing, tormenting Steven Reid and Chris Brunt all day. While it is only the first game of the season, Young has already shown he is capable of playing in a side like United and he has shown United fans why Ferguson was willing to splash out 18m on him.

6. West Bromwich’s stand out performers were  Somen Tchoyi and Shane Long. Tchoyi, despite being a midfielder, played the role of target man perfectly, picking up long balls and holding play up while support arrived. He gave the United defence a torrid time and would have been the most disappointed to have came out of the game with nothing. The same can be said for Shane Long. West Brom’s record signing was positive throughout the game and was a handful for the United back four despite his small stature.

7. Mulumbu was equally impressive in midfield. He kept Cleverley quiet all game and was strong in his tackles. If Hargreaves decides to join West Brom, it will be very difficult for him to displace the Congolese international.

8. Who knew that signing Phil Jones might prove so important so early on for Manchester United? With both Ferdinand and Vidic out for a couple of weeks and young Rafael out for 10 weeks with a shoulder problem, United fans and Ferguson must be thankful that they have Jones and Evans at their disposal. Yet, if both Ferdinand and Vidic are out, they might have to face the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal with a defence comprising of De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Evans and Fabio. That defence has an average age of less than 21.

9. Is Tchoyi  George Elokobi’s half brother?

10. Rooney still looks like Shrek after his hair transplant.

11. Yes, I struggled with the last two.

Top 10 Summer Transfers so far

by M, because nothing is more exciting than new players coming in during the summer

As the new season kicks off in approximately a day or two(depending on your timezone), my life also starts again. D and I, along with millions of other football fanatics around the world, have been pretty much in hibernation as the football season took a break during June-August and we’re delighted that the season is now about to get underway.

As us mere mortals were going about our usual business during the months of summer, football clubs have been busy trying to strengthen their squad with new players. Here is our list of top 10 summer transfers in the EPL. (because there’s only 2 of us and lets face it, the EPL is the most popular/exciting league in the world because no one wants to see Barcelona clean out another 10-0 every weekend). In no particular order, here are the top 10 transfers of the EPL:

Ben Foster (Birmingham -> West Brom, Loan)

A few years ago, Foster was on the cusp of becoming Manchester United’s first choice custodian. A couple of high-profile mistakes later, he was subsequently shipped off to Birmingham, where he failed to keep the Midland clubs in the Premier League despite his heroics in goal. Only 28 years old, he is barely in his prime, particularly in the position he plays. His arrival at West Brom, albeit temporarily, strengthens their defence significantly, especially after the transfer of Scott Carson. Roy Hodgson will undoubtedly look to make it a permanent deal at the end of the season, particularly if Foster saves the club some precious points during the course of it which he definitely will.

Ashley Young (Aston Villa -> Manchester United, 16m)

The statistics don’t lie. Out of the players still plying their trade in the Premier League, only Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas have had a higher assist rate than the England International. What United have bought is a proven and consistent winger who is capable of providing a steady supply of crosses from out wide, corners and free-kicks into the box as he has already shown in the Community Shield against Manchester City at the weekend. While it is argued that United require a creative central midfielder more urgently than another wide player, his acquisition will provide United strength in depth. He will be particularly useful on days when United seemingly have trouble breaking down lesser opposition.

Stewart Downing (Aston Villa -> Liverpool, 19m)

Liverpool fans have been crying out for an out-and-out winger for ages ( I know because I’ve been exposed to D’s incessant whines regarding this matter). It has finally arrived in the shape of Stewart Downing. 19m may seem a bit steep considering his reputation as a one-trick pony in his earlier days but he has blossomed into a fine left winger at Aston Villa. Considering the last proper winger Liverpool have had was the Spaniard Albert Riera, Liverpool’s best acquisition this summer might be the 19m signing of Downing especially when you consider the idea of King Kenny deploying Andy Carroll as a target man.

Shay Given (Manchester City -> Aston Villa, 3.5m)

It is ironic how one of the best goalkeepers in the league if not the world, had never played for a big club (sorry Newcastle fans) and when he did, was benched after one good season with them. Given’s transfer to Aston Villa is exactly what both the club and player needs. Villa needed a reliable stopper after the departure of the ageing Brad Friedel and Given needed a club where he could play week in week out. With no disrespect to Friedel, Given’s arrival will fortify the Villans’ defence even more. On his day, the Irish international is virtually unbeatable. Although already 35, he still has a good 2-3 years of playing time in him and 3.5m seems like a bargain for a goalkeeper of his calibre and experience.

Demba Ba (West Ham -> Newcastle, Free)

As Pardew attempts to start a French revolution at St. James, his most important acquisition this summer may be the arrival of Demba Ba. Newcastle has urgently needed a striker of his calibre ever since the departure of Andy Carroll, also known as Judas or who*e amongst the Toon Army now. While the money of Carroll’s sale was not used in the investment of Demba Ba, it makes Pardew’s acquisition of him even more impressive. Demba Ba’s 7 goals in 12 appearances for West Ham might not have saved the Hammers from relegation but his performances have shown that he is capable of cutting the mustard at the top flight. He will undoubtedly play more than the 12 games he had for West Ham and Newcastle fans must surely hope that he scores much more than the 7 goals he had last season.

Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham -> Stoke, Free)

This is a bit of a contentious one. At first glance, signing Woodgate is a bit of a gamble. His injury record is probably longer than this very article yet if not for them injuries, we all know what a classy and brilliant defender he would have turned out to be. Woodgate may be injury-prone to say the least but his arrival will bring experience to the Stoke defence and while he most certainly will not play every week, his class and ability will benefit the Potters’, especially against quality opposition.

Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham -> Sunderland, Free)

Sunderland have been busy bees this summer. Having picked up United’s unwanted scraps in the form of John O’Shea and Wes Brown and a whole lot of other players, Bruce’s acquisition of Larsson on a free transfer may be his best one this summer. Sebastian Larsson has proved that he is more than capable of putting in a cross. A proven professional, his ability at dead-ball situations is well known. Considering the departure of Steed Malbranque, Jordan Henderson and Boudewijn Zenden, Sunderland are short in numbers in midfield and to be able to add a player of Larsson’s quality to the team might be crucial to Sunderland’s performance this season.

Ali Al-Habsi (Bolton -> Wigan, Undisc.)

It is a pity that Al-Habsi’s rival for the No.1 shirt at Bolton is the ever-present Jussi Jaaskelainen. After warming the bench at the Reebok for awhile, Al-Habsi’s loan move to Wigan showed us his ability. He saved the Latics points throughout the season and was one of the key reasons behind their survival in the top flight. Martinez has now made the move permanent and that means we all will never have to see Chris Kirkland in goal in the Premier League again.

Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid -> Manchester City, 38m)

Probably the highest profile summer arrival to the Premier League this summer. While every Tom, Dick and Harry are clamouring for a move to sunny Spain, Aguero has traded Madrid for Manchester in a 38m deal. City has signed a proven player in the man popularly known as ‘Kun’. A player in the mould of Carlos Tevez, City’s want-away captain and idol, his all action style of play will be warmly greeted by the fans. If he plays as we have seen him play in the La Liga, City fans will be chanting ‘Tevez who?’ by the middle of the season.

Jose Enrique (Newcastle -> Liverpool, 6m)

Liverpool fans will be particularly happy with this transfer. Jose Enrique is a quality left back as he had shown at his time with Newcastle. Physically strong and blessed with good technique, Liverpool’s left wing looks more than decent with the Spaniard at the back and the much-improved Stewart Downing (who is also featured in this article). A whole lot better than Paul Konchesky, 6m for Jose Enrique seems to be the bargain of the transfer window, never mind the fact that he has only one year left on his Newcastle contract. While Liverpool’s central defence still requires some sorting out, Jose Enrique’s addition will be a much-needed boost to Liverpool’s backline.

United Show Champion’s Mettle to Shush the Noisy Neighbours

Nani nets a last-gasp winner as he capitalizes on Kompany's mistake

Not many were fooled by Sir Alex Ferguson’s pre-match comments. “It’s very easy to get emotional about this type of game but I don’t think we’ll be changing our policy,” Ferguson said. Yet, the joy and relief on the Scotsman’s face was all too apparent after Nani scored the winner in dramatic fashion in the dying minutes of the game.

In what was a thrilling encounter, United came back from 2-0 down at half time to win 3-2 with a goal by Smalling and a brace by Nani, with the equalizer a particularly tasty goal, cancelling out first half strikes by Lescott and Dzeko.

It seemed as if it was not going to be United’s day. Having dominated most of the first half, they found themselves 2-0 down at the break thanks to goals from Lescott and Dzeko. Yet, in true United fashion, they launched a comeback worthy of winning any game (bar the CL final considering how awesome Barcelona were that day). Ferguson replaced experienced trio Ferdinand, Vidic and Carrick with the youthful Jones, Evans and Cleverley at half time. Whether it was a masterstroke or merely Ferguson trying to downplay the importance most fans have placed on the game, only the man will know but the introduction of the trio sparked United back to life.

United’s comeback was initiated after Smalling tapped home Young’s pinpoint delivery from a freekick, with Young proving why United were willing to spend big money on him. Cleverley was imperious in midfield, combining vision and energy as he kept United ticking, winning the United faithful over with each pass and tackle. United’s equalizer came after a passage of play that even Xavi and Iniesta et al would have been proud of. A series of intricate one-touch passing and flicks between Rooney, Nani and the brilliant Cleverley released the Portugese in the box and he had no qualms, finishing into the top corner with a cheeky chip over Joe Hart.

The comeback was complete when a speculative clearance by Rooney gave Nani the chance to bear down on Kompany who made a rare mistake and gifted the ball to the Portugese International who duly rounded Hart and slotted the ball home into an empty net.

United fans would have been delighted with their team’s showing, particularly in the second half. The introduction of youngsters Jones, Evans and Cleverley brought hunger and drive into the team which culminated in United’s second half comeback. Cleverley was particularly impressive. His vision and drive achieved what Carrick could not as he kept United’s engine running. Spreading the play and winning the ball back, Cleverley made United fans forget for 45 minutes that they did not have a Ginger Ninja pulling the strings in midfield anymore. Smalling was equally impressive at right back. Normally a centre-back, he performed his defensive duties well and linked up well with Nani as United bombed forward in the second half.

On the back of this performance, there will be much to look forward to this season for the United faithful. The fact that they came back from 2-0 down against what was a strong City side (who, admittedly, did not play the best football) without the likes of Vidic, Berbatov and Carrick must have pleased both Ferguson and the supporters.

City may have the money to spend and they might ultimately prove to be United’s strongest challengers this season. But for now, there is still only one club in Manchester and it is the red of United.