MP is Minister of Defence for a day

The 170th Manchester derby was a dull affair, even lacking the gloss of a blue and red paint drying competition, bereft of any deft finishing strokes.

Sitting firm - Manuel Pellegrini's tactics helped ensure City stayed top of the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

Sitting firm – Manuel Pellegrini’s tactics helped ensure City stayed top of the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

Grey, drab colourless, the 0-0 stalemate did however reveal that Manuel Pellegrini is prepared to dip into a more varied pallete when looking at the bigger picture.

The Chilean ‘Engineer’ has built his managerial reputation on producing masterpieces of attacking football, with City outscoring their Premier League rivals during his two year tenure at the Etihad.

With his canvas stripped back by the absence of Aguero and Silva, a pragmatic Pellegrini sacrificed his usual quest for football artistry, replacing it with a more contemporary defensive design.

Secretary of Defence - City's trusted MP opted for an unorthodox approach in the Manchester derby. Courtesy@MCFC

Secretary of Defence – City’s trusted MP opted for an unorthodox approach in the Manchester derby. Courtesy@MCFC

How many times has the City boss been lambasted by critics and City fans alike for an alleged lack of tactical nous and a gung-ho approach, especially in the Champions League?

How often has the wily South American been accused of never knowing when to shut up shop and sacrifice his swashbuckling attacking style?

Martial Law wasn't imposer at Old Trafford as Fernandinho worked tirelessly to win the midfield battles. Courtesy@MCFC

Martial Law wasn’t imposer at Old Trafford as Fernandinho worked tirelessly to win the midfield battles. Courtesy@MCFC

And yet, here it was on display in The Swamp for all to see – an impenetrable wall of sky blue and white – with Nicolas Otamendi partnering Vincent Kompany for the first time, and City’s ‘F’ factor of Fernandinho and Fernando feverishly going about their work.

Admittedly less attractive, but equally effective, it adds a new dimension to The Engineer’s toolbox, as his team face up to three competitions in seven days.

The draw was City’s first in the Premier League since February, when a last gasp James Milner free kick salvaged a point against Hull City at the Etihad.

Good Kompany - Vincent was back to lead City at The Swamp. Courtesy@MCFC

Good Kompany – Vincent was back to lead City at The Swamp. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini certainly won’t be making a habit of seeking to neutralise opponents at the expense of going for a win, but with a tricky trip to Seville next Tuesday it can’t hurt to have options.

Such an occasional ‘blot’ on Pellegrini’s playbook would quickly be forgiven if it delivers the right results.  All to often Manuel has been denounced for not having a Plan B.

Man of the Match - Otamendi was immense in his first Manchester derby.

Man of the Match – Otamendi was immense in his first Manchester derby.

It’s a measure of modern day City that an away draw, against a nigh-on full strength Trafford Troglodytes, is greeted with disappointment.

Replacing Mangala with Otamendi to accommodate the return of Captain Vincent Kompany, may have appeared harsh on the vastly improved French defender, but it proved masterly from Manuel.

Outnumbered - KdB was closely marked by a possee of United defenders.

Outnumbered – KdB was closely marked by a possee of United defenders.

The Argentine – making his Manchester derby debut along with Sagna, Sterling, DeBruyne, Bony and eventually, Iheanacho – was immense, and deservedly awarded Man-of-the-Match recognition.

Whinging Wayne Rooney – just turned 30-years old – tried to out-muscle City’s £30m man, but Otamendi had his measure in any Argy-Bargy.

Hair-raising - 30-year old Rooney had no answers when it came to getting past City's Number 30.

Hair-raising – 30-year old Rooney had no answers when it came to getting past City’s Number 30.

Earlier in the game Rooney’s head ‘inadvertently’ came into contact with Kompany’s chin resulting in a gash to the United skipper’s bonce.

Bloodstained and with staples being inserted into his cranium, much of the terrace and social media talk centred on whether Rooney was, quite literally, getting his hair off.

Can you see the join? Rooney's 'syrup' stayed on as his head was stapled after coming off worse in a clash with Kompany.

Can you see the join? Rooney’s hair transplant remained intact after coming off worse in a clash with Kompany.

Old Big Head himself LVG, defended his team’s inability to beat an under strength City, making a fatuous penalty claim after Hererra ran into Sterling.

Even rabid red Gary Neville, commentating for Sky TV, immediately dismissed it as a ‘tangling of legs and no penalty’.

Funny how Van Gaal didn’t draw attention to Rojo’s cowardly raking of Navas’ face with his studs, an incident either missed or ignored by referee Clattenburg.

Dirty Red - Rojo raked his boot down the face of Jesus Navas and escaped punishment.

Dirty Red – Rojo raked his boot down the face of Jesus Navas and escaped punishment.

The Spanish winger had replaced a worryingly inconsistent Sterling in the 55th minute.

Pellegrini’s most telling substitution was withdrawing an out-of-sorts Yaya Toure, only two minutes after Bog Brush, Microphone Head, Pubic Hair Transplant Gone Wrong, ‘Gob On A City Player’ World Spitting Champion, Fellaini entered the fray.

Martin Demichelis came on to counter the elbows and menace of the one Belgian all City fans love to hate.

Tactically savvy - MP called it right in Trafford Borough with out injured stars Aguero and Silva.

Tactically savvy – MP called it right in Trafford Borough with out injured stars Aguero and Silva.

By contrast, Kevin de Bruyne, had a quiet game by his own recent standards, often being the centre of attention for two or three United players all at once.

Short on confidence Wilfried Bony had a tough time, incurring the wrath of some frustrated City fans, but the big Ivorian is only likely to score if he receives the ball deep in opposition territory.

The service he received was akin to that of an Argus collection point on a busy weekend…abysmal.

Tough times - Bony is having a crisis of confidence but can still come good for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Tough times – Bony is having a crisis of confidence but can still come good for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Patience and perseverance will see Bony scoring goals for City, especially in Aguero’s absence. He needs game time and a consistent supply line.

Joe Hart’s late stop of a Chris Smalling shot took the keeper to a personal milestone of 100 Premier League clean sheets, the first for City since winning 1-0 away at Crystal Palace.

Hart of the Mata - Joe was quick to thwart Juan and chalk up his 100th Premier League clean sheet. Courtesy@MCFC

Hart of the Mata – Joe was quick to thwart Juan and chalk up his 100th Premier League clean sheet. Courtesy@MCFC

Palace are next up in the Capital One Cup, a game that will probably see a few changes with Zabaleta, Mangala, Demichelis, Iheanacho and even young attacker Patrick Roberts start.

Worryingly it will also see Willy Caballero make a rare appearance – not rare enough for many of the fans.

The veteran Argentine was supposed to provide genuine competition for Joe Hart after a strong showing in La Liga. In truth young Angus Gunn would probably be a safer bet as the reserve keeper.

Near miss - Yaya came agonisingly close to giving City the lead.

Near miss – Yaya came agonisingly close to giving City the lead.

City’s clear priorities – as always – are the Premier League and Champions League, but with Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Delph and Clichy sidelined, the options to rotate the team are limited at present.

Maximum points against Norwich and even a draw in a hostile Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville, would see City resolute and defiant in the face of adversity.

Close call - City could have been 2-0 down to Sevilla at the Etihad before finally winning 2-1.

Close call – City could have been 2-0 down to Sevilla at the Etihad before finally winning 2-1.

Whether El Mago Silva might be in contention for a place against Sevilla is debateable. It’d be a huge bonus, providing City don’t rush him back too soon.

Aguero – after being ruled out of Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Colombia next month – is setting his sights on a return against Liverpool on November 21st.

Sevilla no show - sadly Sergio will be missing in Spain next week. Courtesy@MCFC

Sevilla no show – sadly Sergio will be missing in Spain next week. Courtesy@MCFC

If Pellegrini deploys the tactics and formations to keep City on top of the Premier League and progressing in a fiercely competitive Group D, just imagine the boost to City’s fortunes when his primary goal maker and taker return.

It’ll be anything but dull.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

 

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Win this David Silva signed photo from the 1-6 Old Trafford massacre.

Win this David Silva signed photo from the 1-6 Old Trafford massacre.

Win this Mario Balotelli signed photo as he began the famous 'Sick Swan' for City against United.

Win this Mario Balotelli signed photo as he began the famous ‘Sick Swan’ for City against United.

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