Tuned in City tune up United
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were pitch perfect and on a superior wavelength as they left Manchester United quivering in the shockwaves of a sky blue derby day win.
Mourinho’s mob were left twiddling with the knobs of an old wireless, while Pep’s men sent out a high frequency signal, one that will be received with trepidation by the rest of the Premier League.
City’s players have attuned remarkably quickly to the carefully crafted football choreography of their Catalan leader, displaying verve, vitality and ‘vamoosh’ as they moved away at the top of the Premier League table.
Guardiola’s all-out attacking approach set the tone for a sumptuous City display, overcoming some slight United interference, en-route to a seismic 2-1 victory.
Man of the Match Kevin De Bruyne must have had his ex-Chelsea boss squirming, with a sensational performance oozing class, creativity and clinical finishing.
Jose once dismissed KDB as 'cry baby', but the only tears being shed at Old Trafford were those of joy, as De Bruyne cut through every sinew of United's being.
The flame-haired Belgian scored City’s opener with ice cold efficiency. Next up, his angled left foot drive ricocheted off de Gea's post, providing the assist for Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal.
KDB had the beating of de Gea for a third time when another shot hit the post, before the ball rolled agonizingly along the United goal line and away to safety.
Shorn of banned superstar striker Sergio Aguero and denied the talents of not fully fit Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan, City were, nonetheless, in total harmony as they cut through the red ranks with consummate ease.
It was as if United weren’t even there for the first 40+ minutes.
World record signing, £93m Paul Pogba displayed unexpected solidarity with his blue opponents, opting to pay homage to City’s fabled ‘Invisible Man’ or, as PP himself would, say ‘Homme Invisible’.
Pogba played the part to perfection and is due to collect the Global Hide & Seek Champion Trophy in the near future...if and when he eventually re-appears.
Effectively reduced to 10-men (dix homme, as Paul would later joke) United were enveloped in a cacophony of discord led by a man wearing the Captain’s armband and, what appeared to be Shredded Wheat on his head.
The pundits and media who pander to, and fawn all over United, still love ‘world class’ Wayne Rooney, although it’s still unclear as to the topic of discussion when the term is applied.
Perhaps Rooney excels in the ’90 Minute Mouthing Off’ category? On Saturday’s display he’d certainly be up there with the very best.
Maybe it boils down to what constitutes petulance or passion?
What was never in doubt on this showing was Guardiola’s superior tactical nous over Mourinho.
Jose’s plan to force City to play narrow, backfired in spectacular fashion with Lingard and Mkhitarayan dumped at half time, with the United manager later blaming his players for not being up to the challenge.
A nice touch of man management and leadership by the Not So Special One.
In contrast Guardiola had his team produce an almost perfect first half, as City completely mesmerized the pre-match favourites.
The only negative from City’s perspective, came from a surprisingly anxious and uneasy looking Claudio Bravo, making his debut in City’s goal.
Despite the Chilean international’s erratic day, City were totally in tune with Pep’s evolution - one that has accelerated into a revolution - all within 540 minutes of competitive action.
Otamendi was immense while Stones continues to look imperious.
Kolarov continued his metamorphosis from a lazy, couldn’t care less, waste of space under Pellegrini, to a competitive, combative and more than competent defender on Pep’s watch. The Serbian’s transformation is nothing short of astonishing.
AK 47 even shed a front tooth for the cause, courtesy of yes, you guessed it , Fellaini’s flailing elbow.
Odious microphone head was back to his best/worst of dirty derby day antics.
Having elbowed and spat at Zabaleta, as well as spitting at Aguero in previous encounters, the vile Belgian knocked out Kolarov’s tooth and spat at Nolito.
A thoroughly objectionable individual, one can but wonder how De Bruyne and Kompany truly view their fellow countryman?
City controlled the midfield with Silva faultless, Fernandinho indefatigable and Sterling, brimming with confidence after his Premier League Player of the Month Award.
Nolito continued to surpass expectations, while Kelechi popped up with what must be his career highlight to date, a derby day winning goal.
Iheanacho hardly figured in the after match headlines - such a contrast to when Rashford scored the winner at the Etihad in March.
Both players are outstanding prospects, but it’s all too easy to see where the media hype lies.
Still, City proved that actions speak louder than words and Guardiola is more than happy to let his team do his talking.
Jose, on the other hand prefers to undermine his players and commit heresy by blaming Fergie’s mate, referee Clattenburg for United’s woes.
It must’ve been a particularly cold day in hell – a Manchester United manager criticising Clattenburg – or as Jose softly couched it ‘We were beaten by Mark…’
Mourinho’s straw-clutching related to two penalty appeals involving Bravo and Otamendi – neither of which were viable, albeit the City goalkeeper’s clash with Rooney, sparked considerable debate.
City’s sweeper keeper wasn’t the only player making his debut, with Leroy Sane coming on as a sub, and showing encouraging early signs of his prodigious talent.
Credit where it's due, Fernando played his part as a second half sub for Kelechi, helping bolster City's defence, as Pep opted for a modicum of pragmatism.
Basking in the warm afterglow of an eighth win over Jose in 17 match ups (Pep’s drawn six and lost only three) Guardiola is finding top flight English football to his liking.
He knows the Champions League could offer a more thorough scrutiny of what he’s achieved during his first few weeks at the Eithad.
Borussia Moenchengladbach will be a familiar opponent to both Pep and City – Guardiola from his time at Bayern Munich, and City, who squeezed past the hard working Germans, 2-1 and 4-2 in the group stages last season.
It looks certain that Aguero will play, as he works through a three-game domestic ban, and the game could mark the eagerly anticipated debut of Gundogan, potentially Guardiola’s best summer signing.
City should be capable of maintaining the status quo and sustaining Pep’s 100% win record.
The only element likely to strike a bum note will be the Champions League anthem, doubtless accompanied by raucous booing, when it rings out at the Etihad tomorrow night.
By David Walker