Manchester City 1 – 0 Manchester United Talking Points (FA Cup)

Berbatov challenges Kompany

AUTHOR: – Doron

Manchester City took a step closer to ending their 35 year barren spell as they defeated United 1-0 at Wembley. Both teams were missing key strikers but the game was won in the midfield with an error from United, pounced upon by City. Here we discuss the Talking Points of the game and encourage both United and City fans to leave their thoughts on an intense game.

Talking Points

Small margins

The build-up to the game was all fairly odd. There was pessimism amongst City fans, nervous confidence amongst United fans, and the media had United down as favourites given form and the loss of Tevez. Form aside, it was always going to be tight. There was little doubt that Fergie would match City’s 4-5-1 and given the games between the two sides already this year, this was hardly going to be romp for either team.

Games between United and City recently are seldom won by anything other than a moment of magic or an error. These fine margins are the difference between success and failure, today was no different. It was a shame that it was the combination of Edwin and Carrick – arguably two of United’s two best performers both up to that point in the game and in recent weeks, that were at fault for the City goal.

The goal came shortly after half time yet United could have, and should have gone in ahead at the break. Fine margins again came into play as Berbatov missed two glorious chances – the second being pretty much an open goal. City ended up scoring the only goal after a poor kick from Edwin was badly controlled by Carrick. Yaya Toure pounced and finished well – from then on City were able to defend somewhat comfortably without truly looking threatening as their 2 shots on target suggests.

Paul Scholes

As Ferguson put it post-match: “he has these red mist moments and this was another one”. Few will doubt Paul Scholes is one of the finest midfielders to play for United and England but he has moments of madness that seem to take over him.

Actually, Scholes had started well. His radar was very much ‘on’ and unsurprisingly United players were seeking him out at every opportunity. Similarly, Carrick was looking comfortable – a reassurance given that in the absence of Scholes lately, Carrick had stepped up giving the perception that he’s better without Scholes. The problem in playing both Scholes and Carrick was a lack of thrust in the middle – until Anderson came on, this didn’t exist.

Already a goal down, the game became even tougher with Scholes being shown a straight red card. Scholes may have had eyes for the ball but he was late, he was high and he caught Zabaleta flush on the thigh with his boot. It didn’t really seem to change the pattern of the second half though – City were more than content to allow United to have possession in the centre of the pitch knowing that they had plenty of blue shirts back to defend.

The question now is, what next for Scholes? His suspension means he can’t play in the league again until the 8th May when United host Chelsea. With one goal, this is Scholes’s worst goalscoring season so far and as it stands would be only the 3rd time in 17 years that he’s played less than 30 games a season (currently on 27). In a frank interview with the newspapers, Scholes hinted he’s considering retirement with a testimonial game pencilled in for August. I don’t doubt that Scholes is one of the finest players I’ve ever seen but he’s often looked off the pace this year, if he did decide to retire he’d go out with his head held very high.

Berbatov, Chicharito and Rooney

Rooney’s unavailability gave Fergie a selection issue. He was always going to match City’s 4-5-1 so it was down to who was the ’1′ and who’d play behind him. He chose Berbatov with Park behind him. The problems with this were two-fold – when Berbatov held a high line no one really got up to support him and Park was dragged about by Toure and Silva hence not providing a link; however when Berbatov dropped deep, United’s play became too cramped.

Berbatov, whilst guilty of missing excellent chances and fading in and out of the game, did little wrong. The issue lay behind him. This was shown when Chicharito came on – he held a high line, playing off the last defender, but like Berbatov, he had no link man close enough behind him.

What this highlighted was just how important Rooney is to United when they want to play a system with one striker. If Rooney plays behind the striker, like he recently did against Chelsea in the Champions League, he’s unplayable. If Rooney plays upfront as a lone striker – he combines the best assets of both Berbatov and Chicharito to cause trouble and hassle the defenders throughout the game.

Against Man City, the best option may well have been a bold 4-4-2, against a physically strong defence a lone striker didn’t seem enough. Going 4-4-2 would have meant being outnumbered in the middle though – a gamble, but maybe one worth taking.

Match Conclusion

Both sides had key selection decisions to make ahead of this game – Manchester City chose Balotelli ahead of Dzeko to fill the void left by Carlos Tevez’s injury, whilst United went for Berbatov to replace Rooney. Berbatov nearly put United ahead early on – first he saw a one on one saved by Hart and then could only shoot over after Nani’s cross saw him with a near enough open goal just 2 yards out. United seemed to be comfortable and dominant in possession with Vidic and Ferdinand comfortably able to deal with anything City threw at them. However as half time loomed, City had chances through Barry, Balotelli, Lescott and then Kompany as they finished the game on the up.

City started the second half as they finished the first – on the front food. Their dominance was rewarded after 52 minutes – the goal came from a United error. Van der Sar cleared the ball only as far as Carrick (25 yards out) whose touch was poor, allowing Yaya Toure to pick up on the mis-control and he steamrollered past Vidic before slotting the ball under the on-rushing Van der Sar.

United’s response to the goal was somewhat anonymous. City seemed invigorated by their goal and lead by the outstanding David Silva, they could have scored two more soon after. Having fallen behind, United finally went to a 4-4-2 with Chicharito on for Valencia – he came on to see Nani’s free kick hit the crossbar. United were then reduced to 10 men as Scholes went in high and late on Zabaleta’s thigh – few could complain he deserved red. Despite further possession from United and only restricting City to two shots on target all game, United couldn’t come close to an equaliser and it’s City who progress to play either Bolton or Stoke in the final.

United now travel to Newcastle on Tuesday night in a must-win league game.

AUTHOR: – Doron

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13 Responses to “Manchester City 1 – 0 Manchester United Talking Points (FA Cup)”

  1. Mancunian Red says:

    Top quality article as always!

    Today emphasised certain factors which I’ve belied for a long time. Carrick has been playing very well recently but he hasn’t got enough attributes in his locker, by that I mean certain games are made for him, if his passing is on form and he can get away with that he is superb.

    I don’t mind Berbatov missing chances but he isn’t a United player I’ve been saying it for years, he doesn’t have the pace, the movement or the drive and while his touch is often sublime that isn’t enough and in big games he either doesn’t start or he fails to deliver too often.

    However in some game you need a player who will win the ball, battle, break up play a fighter and in games such as this I think he struggles too often

    I think we rely to much on Rooney he drives us forward, supports the midfield, opens the opposition up, scores critical goals and improves players around him.

    Nani is another player supremely gifted but he is also too often headless and too interested in himself and the team.

    None of these facts are based just on today’s performance but what I’ve seen for years.

    I would have started with Anderson.

    Pity fans let themselves down with violence I think it will be interesting how we respond Giggs and Rooney will be critical.

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  2. @Mancunian Red

    Here’s a suggestion for you to ponder… it was put to me before the game that Carrick’s recent form has got better with Scholes out the team – he’s come out of the shadow of Scholes and been given the license/freedom to express himself. Had that in the back of my head whilst watching the game and it certainly appeared true – when Scholes plays we always look to him. Carrick was no longer the main man in the middle, and given his form, he should have been.

    Anderson made a positive impact when he came on, definitely added some thrust and urgency that was missing

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  3. Mancunian Red says:

    I thought in Carrick’s first few years at OT he and Scholes had a good partnership especially with our attack and pace and options available.

    Personally I think Scholes has all but gone for a while now, he still has the odd very good run or/and game but I think it is more sentiment than anything else why the boss has stuck with him.

    I will stick by my point though because it is something I feel very strongly about playing Rooney in the role of a number 10 he can support the midfield and is a driving force and gives us options. Moreover I don’t dislike Carrick but he is limited especially when it isn’t his day I think you just need to fight.

    The form Carrick has been in he deserves to start but even besides Giggs, Giggs I think offers more options than Scholes, he is quicker, has better vision now and links up with the team and drives us forward. I do like the Rooney Giggs link up.

    Giggs does tend to get forward more than Scholes now so that could be a factor in your favour.

    My point is primarily that I like more from my midfield players, if he is defensively minded I would prefer a better ball winner, if he plays more attacking I’d like more goals.

    I’m an Anderson fan, well in a way I think he has everything but is the worst finisher I’ve seen and his consistency needs to improve.

    We have a lot of midfield who if they could do this or that better or on their day are brilliant but as Shankly once said never tell me about a player who is great on his day.

    Truthfully I want more from a team which wants to be the best in the world.

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  4. Good article Doron and I totally agree with you regarding importance of Rooney and lack of supply from midfield.They were the reason behind our failure to win this one.Passing was poor especially from Carrick and VDS but it’s not surprising the team looked tired after a gruelling fixture list in the past month.Cant remember such a tough fixture list ending to a season.Our main priority is PL and CL so if we had to stumble which we were always going to because of a tough fixture list then it’d rather be this one rather than PL or the games vs Schalke.We need to sort things right and win vs Newcastle on Tuesday.

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  5. Dot says:

    Maybe if Fergie got that 4 5 1 system out of his head and play the right team perhaps we would have won I sick of the back teeth of that stupid system!!

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  6. happyneutralfan says:

    was great watching man united lose. even funnier to see Rio lose it at the end. roll on Karma!!

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  7. 3times says:

    Comments by Mancunian Red & Nameonthetrophy
    On the Scholes thing I have always felt that Carrick plays a little in awe of Scholes almost like the master and the apprentice. At every opportunity Carrick moves it to him rather than believing in his own ability. On this I agree with you nameonthetrophy. I know they played well together a few years back but maybe we are just comparing that to the previous season to him signing where we had a mixed bag of Fortune, O’shea, Giggs, Smith, Richardson & Fletcher(was awful at that time)all playing CM roles due to injuries to Keane & Scholes.

    We had to play Scholes, it would have been a game too far for Giggs after the 2 Chelsea games. With Scholes taking up a birth in CM it would have been a massive risk to go 442 especially without Rooney to subsidise the Midfield.

    For me Anderson should have played ahead of Park.
    Park put a lot of graft into the 2 Chelsea matches and he is great at doing a defensive job along with his effectiveness on the counter as he is a willing runner.
    However City are one of those teams under Mancini who will let you have the ball, this is where park tends to run up blind alleys, and his use of the ball can be unintelligent.
    He reminds me a little of a player we once had by the name Giuliano Maiorana who used to belt upand down the touchline (Park is better but you see where i’m coming from).

    Anderson however maybe a poor finisher but has great vision, drive and would have supported Berbatov better.
    This puts me in agreement with you Mancunian Red about the importance of Rooney.

    It’s a shame but watching Scholes you can see the frustration onhis face, I really think he will call it quits as he isn’t the type to want to play 20 minute cameo appearences. Although he would be effective in this role and being around the squad has a massive influence on the younger guys I’m not sure he would be up for it.

    All in all City shaded it. We had a couple of golden opportunities early on but we faded. Lets just hope they underestimate Stoke.

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  8. Ian says:

    “What this highlighted was just how important Rooney is to United when they want to play a system with one striker.”

    Or how we could do with that attacking midfielder there seems to be much debate about. And I don’t mean a super-expensive one, but in the squad we need an attacking midfielder Ferguson trusts to play an advanced role (as Anderson doesn’t seem to be it) so that Rooney and Giggs aren’t our only consistent link-up men.

    Scholes, meanwhile, had one of his increasingly frequent off-days and the red card just compounded it. He actually fucked our hopes of a comeback because there was no chance Hernandez wasn’t going to come on and we couldn’t play with either 3 midfielders or defenders lest we got swamped, so Hernandez was left as a lone striker which is far from his strongest suit.

    Anderson looked okay when he came on.

    After good games against Chelsea I see Carrick was back to flubbing his lines for much of the game. There was no excuse for him to not just hack down Toure as soon as he’d lost the ball.

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  9. Holt says:

    You got that spot on really good report, Berbatove scores you win (second one) the first effort was a good save and Berbatov didn’t do a lot wrong. As a city fan United always play wingers and to see Valencia go off was a boost. maybe scholes should have gone and Chico on then. Scholes what can you say about him great player but rash chalenges this cost you this time. To the next one hope we enjoy the final

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  10. cockney red says:

    Trust “hot head” Balotelli to choose this as the one game to be as cool as a cucumber.

    When you see the photos of our players surrounding him, teeth bared like angry baboons, it looks very bad. Maybe our players were hoping to get him banned for the final, but it backfired.

    Balotelli is always criticised for not smiling or celebrating, then the moment he touched his badge to his lips in the centre circle of wembley, Rio was in his face. Ferdinand was swearing and trying to assault him, because “Balotelli winked at him”.

    It’s not going to go down well with the FA, I fear. Are our players going to keep picking up stupid bans for stupid behaviour, or will SAF finally put a stop to it?

    As if coming second to city wasn’t bad enough. I had one of those northern monkeys in my cab yesterday, boasting about city. I nearly told him to F off and walk to Euston.

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  11. matt says:

    United’s performance was Arsenalesque. We had key players injured (offering a ready made excuse), the league leading scorer miss consecutive sitters, and a normally reliable player make an inexplicable error. We failed to capitalize on our early dominance, and let one in on a powerful counterattack.

    As for me, my reaction will not be like an Arsenal fan’s. I’m not going to play the martyr, and I’m going to enjoy the run in to number 19, which is assured thanks to Arsenal’s collapse (the first and last time i’ll cheer a liverpool goal). Everything else is a bonus after the league. My rule is: if United win the league, i will not complain about any other missed trophies.

    As for the Champions League, I am going to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait to see VDS’s possible successor “audition” for us on the big stage (United should dominate the play, but a string of phenomenal saves by Neuer could be our undoing). If we progress to the final, a revenge match against Guardiola’s Barcelona awaits, or an even more climactic final against Mourinho, Ronaldo, and company.

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  12. ant, manchester. says:

    cockney red, i know this will come as a surprise to you but manchester is actually full of “northern monkeys”..you probably wont know this as you sit in your armchair watching united on sky but you are typical of cockney reds, now fuck off and don’t ever call us northern monkeys again you red scum!

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  13. And We're Still Still Here says:

    cockney red, you must really endear yourself to those united fans who are from manchester with that attitude!

    hope he didn’t you you a tip!

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