#2: United’s midfield completely lacked dynamism and creativity
Both City and United fielded a 4-3-3 formation for this game, but where City’s midfield – David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho – offered the right mix of verve and steel, with the two Silvas attacking while Fernandinho offered strength in the middle, United’s midfield was simply lacking in any dynamism or creativity from the off.
The trio of Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Nemanja Matic simply lacked any kind of quick thinking going forward, and early on in particular, Herrera was criminally sloppy when it came to giving the ball away cheaply. This meant that David Silva was allowed to run riot – floating from the left and into the middle and back without really being tracked – and United’s defence was left open.
The gaps between United’s midfield and forwards were simply too big for them to ever truly create any chances – something shown in the final stat of just 6 shots on goal all game, compared to City’s 17 attempts.
Mourinho justified his selection by claiming Paul Pogba had “sacrificed himself” against Juventus when he picked up an injury, but how United’s midfield could’ve done with him today. Quite why the Portuguese boss didn’t pick someone like Juan Mata though – who could’ve offered more creativity – is a mystery. After this match surely the realisation that Fellaini is more effective as an impact substitute must sink in.
Regardless, United’s poor midfield performance was certainly key to City’s victory today.Published 12 Nov 2018, 00:57 IST