As the dust settles on the Theatre of Dreams (or Nightmares) after an extraordinary Manchester derby and fans of both sides stop pinching themselves, the post-mortem begins to look at what conclusions can be found about both clubs.
United need a defensive midfielder
A vital component of any successful team in recent years has been a defensive midfielder to plug the gap between attack and defence that was so inexplicably exploited at Old Trafford yesterday. Claude Makelele was surrounded by superstars at Real Madrid and Chelsea but was perhaps the most important player at both clubs and while Man City have Nigel De Jong to do that job, United are lacking a player to take the reins.
The lack of a defensive midfielder was one of the reasons that United were so wasteful in possession. It is a long time since Fergie’s side have been so wasteful with the ball and the need for somebody to link the play was glaring.
Michael Carrick is not a player that gains a glowing reference at the Theatre of Dreams but he could have been a big player in the Manchester derby with his crab-like style of football. He is happy to sit back while others push forward and thats what was needed against the majestic movement of Manchester City.
However, I don’t think Carrick is the answer because his tackling ability does not live up to his passing. If United are going to compete for any trophies they need to fill the gap. Although not a popular choice, one player that is likely to be available is former Liverpool player Javier Mascherano, who is falling down the Barcelona pecking order.
Rio Ferdinand is past it
In the biggest games, any weak links get exposed and yesterday Rio Ferdinand was one of many weak links wearing red. Now in his tenth season at the club he is no longer a must-pick in the United backline.
He has looked yards off the pace mentally and physically, quite clearly seen in the build up to the fourth goal where his mindless mix-up between Ferdinand and De Gea which sparked the embarrassing injury-time scenes and again with the sixth goal when he was outpaced by Dzeko in a pace battle that would have been no problem in previous years.
Without Nemanja Vidic alongside him there is no escaping the 32-year-old’s decline and with Phil Jonesplaying magnificently so far, it may be time for the former England captain to head for the exit door.
City are more than just noisy neighbours
In their first major test of the Premier League season there is no doubting that Manchester City passed with flying colours.
Called the ‘Noisy neighbours’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, they have now proved they are serious title contenders and should not be taken lightly. Everything piece of the jigsaw fiited together perfectly for Roberto Mancini to create an intimidating product capable of destroying any team in Europe.
Against United both centre-backs were able to extinguish any threat from a team that had scored goals in their first eight games of the campaign. Similarly, Gael Clichy made Nani anonymous throughout the game and Man of the Match Micah Richards forced Ashley Young in field time and again, preventing him from getting any dangerous crosses.
Meanwhile in attack, Milner and Silva had so much space they seemed to be playing on a park of their own and the telepathy between them and strikers Aguero and Balotelli was sublime.
That performance shows they are definite title contenders and with their vast array of talent, could have a full trophy cabinet come May.
David Silva is the best player in the Premiership
The little Spaniard continued his scintillating season yesterday and proved why he is the best player in the league.
He was able to carve the United defence up like a Christmas turkey and was instrumental in every United attack. His vision to play in Milner to cross for the first two goals was on another level and the pinpoint volley into the path of Edin Dzeko was the best pass of the season so far.
At times the ball seemed glued to his foot and whenever he chose to allow someone else to have a touch, he found another acre of space to get it back. This man was the difference despite only scoring one himself and may single handedly take the trophy from Old Trafford to the blue half of Manchester.
Joshua Robbins for FootbalFanCast.com