As the final scoreline read 3-2, the faces of everyone in blue and white was despondent and in shatters, but the ones in red were only getting started in their celebration. This was a derby that would go down in the history as being one of the best Manchester derbies the footballing world has witnessed. Manchester United led by Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez came back from two down to score a three-goal win over the front-runners and the destined winners of the Premier League, Manchester City.
Derbies are always a spectacle where the emotions run high and the players feed off the energy of the fans and try to bring out the best they can achieve. This derby was, however, an exception for the first half and the first few minutes of the second. But, once the shackles that had been used to restrain Paul Pogba came off in the second half, we had ourselves a footballing fiesta to witness.
While there are other posts that will go into detail about the whats and the hows and the ifs and the maybes, I would like to talk about two things.
First, Alexis Sanchez.
As talked about earlier here, Alexis Sanchez did not have the best first few months playing for the Red Devils, there were troubling statements that came from the management that he ate his food alone, removed from his team-mates. Then there was the call for his axing by United legends -Scholes and Ferdinand, who felt that the lad could not make it at the theater of dreams.
Woke up today morning and feeling…..no words…..Hope this is the best way to describe the derby 😂😂 Courtesy: @Sporf #MUFC #MCIMNU #PL #PremierLeague #GeatComebacks #TuesdayTreat #Sanchez #Pogba #Pogboom #manchesterisred #always #GGMU pic.twitter.com/2eyEdoZud8
— United4life (@unitedisinme) April 8, 2018
Today, was especially pleasing to the soul to see him shut everyone up with a fantastic performance in a game where nothing but the result mattered. Alexis Sanchez was instrumental in all three goals that were scored by United, helped by Pogba. He was a delight to watch as he cut across from the wing and placed the ball in front of Herrera, Pogba, and Smalling in turn and produce a masterclass of a performance.
Saturday’s electrifying 3-2 derby win was a big night for Pogba but it also felt like a breakthrough moment in a #mufc shirt for Alexis Sanchez. Mourinho will hope it marks a catalyst for both #mcfc https://t.co/5Ca3eh8j5v
— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) April 9, 2018
Having started to pull his weight early on in the game trying to get into the City box, Alexis Sanchez was limited in his opportunities by being held back by a United offence that did not want to enter into the City half. Had United started to play aggressively right from the start, maybe even from the time Alexis Sanchez joined the team, the point difference between City and United today would not be this profound.
The defense or rather the lack of it –
The other thing I wanted to talk about was the defense of United, or rather the lack of a defense. The city players, Sterling, in particular, managed to get into the United box dangerously as many as 7 times in the first half alone. It was a matter of luck and a lack of finesse in execution that scoreboard at the end of the first half read the way it did.
The goals for City came from a lack of marking on Kompany, who was easily able to beat the mark of Smalling and get the ball into the back of the net. The second goal by Gundogan by easily twisting and turning and beating three of the four defenders to get the ball into the back of the net. The only shining light in the torn up United back line was Ashley Young who managed to save the dignity of all those supporting the reds and almost gave a penalty in the process.
In the coming summer transfer window, Mourinho should not look at anything but strengthening the back line of United. If the defenders at the back are strong, they can stop the ball much further ahead, opening the field for Pogba, Rashford, Sanchez to push it up the wings or down the center and get it to Lukaku or try to get scoring opportunities.
That is what United has been lacking, the drive to chase the ball down and to put it into the net, and continuing to remain this way and failing to recognize the obvious flaw in our tactical execution on the field will surely lead to another season without any major silverware.
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