Will Tidey - Cautious City suffocated the Manchester derby
Published: 11 Nov 2010 - 07:35:09
It was billed as the most vital of Manchester derbies, but last night's forgettable battle of blue and red was a pale imitation of itself.
While the baying City crowd played their supporting role with all the vigour you'd expect, the assembled cast down below appeared strangely detached from the intensity of the occasion.
Rafael and Carlos Tevez had a minor set-to, Nemanja Vidic clattered Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes picked up an obligatory booking for an obligatory collection of lunges. And that was about it.
Whatever you think about Gary Neville, there was something of his snarling devotion to the cause that was desperately lacking. Scholes was the sole local representative at Eastlands, and it showed.
Ultimately the blame will rightly fall on Roberto Mancini, and the suffocating formation he somehow deemed appropriate. Blue shirts made the midfield a millionaires mix zone, but they were few and far between in the final third.
A win would have put City level with United on points. But without an element of risk, their manager never looked like getting a reward.
Tevez was wrapped in a blanket of Manchester United defenders, and there was little opportunity to uncork the fizz we've come to expect of him on the big occasion. He looked cold. He looked lonely.
James Milner and David Silva were cast in support roles, but both spent the majority of their evenings on defensive duty. Only Yaya Toure made a serious contribution to City's attacking ambition, and when he did maraud forward he found himself without a pass.
If City are to persist with this formation they desperately need a creative midfielder sprinkled with inspiration. The worry is they'll buy one and he'll spend his afternoons tracking back.
Meanwhile United had reason for cheer. Sir Alex Ferguson's team controlled the game in the second half and looked the more likely. Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick combined well in midfield and Dimitar Berbatov was treated to a good deal more company than his former colleague Tevez in blue.
But chances were as thin on the ground as inspiration. The two sides delivered just five attempts on target and only one - a wicked Tevez free-kick in the first half - drew a meaningful save from a goalkeeper.
When the final whistle blew, both teams walked away with a point and their reputations largely intact.
But while Ferguson was left to rue two points missed, Mancini will likely spend the next few days explaining away his fearful tactics and what exactly unlimited funds should equal in terms of entertainment.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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