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United stumble against City

Whether the occasion was overwhelming for some of United’s players or whether the fatigue of the International week took its toll is debatable but even the most biased United fan would have found it difficult to claim that we deserved three points in the Manchester derby on Sunday.

Credit before the game goes to the City fans who put aside their differences on the day to pay tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Disaster and to the players who lost their lives in Munich.

The stage was set for the players to go out in the 1958 replicate kit and pay tribute to the players who never really got the chance to fulfill their potential.

But it never really happened. United’s players looked slow and lethargic, misplacing passes and lacking the concentration at the back which has been so solid throughout the season so far. Meanwhile City looked solid in defense and threatened continuously on the counter-attack.

As expected, United dominated possession but never really had a cutting edge. If games were won by passing the ball across the pitch from 30-40 yards out then this would have been United’s day but games are won by finding the back of the net and City looked much more threatening in the final third.

With United 2-0 down at half time and the inevitable hair dryer treatment looming, it was expected that United would come out all guns blazing in the second half but the threat never seemed to materialize and City looked comfortable throughout and only really came under pressure in injury time as United grabbed a consolation.

With Rooney missing, United certainly lacked the heart and passion of someone endlessly chasing lost causes. With Anderson and Scholes both on the pitch, the Champions lacked the attacking options from the bench and with hindsight maybe a pairing of Hargreaves and Scholes would have given us the options of introducing a fresh Anderson.

The lack of a partner for Tevez also seemed to cost us with Ronaldo tending to drift just off the loan striker leaving him easy to pick up for the City defenders with his back to goal. It was clear that he’s at his most threatening when he’s able to pick up the ball facing the opposing defenders and at his dazzling best when he can run at people. Maybe Manucho is the cover we need for Tevez and Rooney and it will be interesting to see what happens now that he’s returned from an impressive African Nations Cup.

What was obvious from the game though was an absent Louis Saha who would have no doubt made a difference in the final third had he been fit. An in form Saha is a fantastic addition to our squad but time must surely be running out for the Frenchman to prove his fitness at the club.

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