Manchester United‘s recent winning run came to an end in devastating fashion on Sunday afternoon, as Erik ten Hag’s side were simply blown away by rivals Manchester City following an imperious showing by the champions at the Etihad.
Having won four on the bounce after the debacle at Brentford, the Red Devils slipped back into old habits as they were put to the sword by Pep Guardiola’s side, eventually heading in at the break on the wrong end of a four-goal deficit – as had been the case on that grim night against the Bees.
Two stunning hat-trick’s from local lad Phil Foden and long-time United target Erling Haaland ensured a thoroughly deserved victory for the hosts, with the latter man bagging a treble for the third home game running to take his staggering Premier League tally to 14 goals in just eight games.
While a late double from substitute Anthony Martial – as well as an earlier stunner from summer signing Antony – provided some consolation for the away side, in truth the eventual 6-3 scoreline flattered them immensely, with the Old Trafford outfit once again left to lick their wounds after a derby drubbing.
On what was obviously a grim day defensively, the forward line also underwhelmed against a far from first-choice City lineup, with the home side without John Stones, while both Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias were only named on the bench.
A key villain was that of Marcus Rashford, with the academy graduate proving wholly ineffectual in leading the line, with Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville (02/10/2022, 15:15) stating that he – as well as teammate Scott McTominay – were “well below par” as they were substituted on the hour mark.
The Premier League’s Player of the Month for September was restricted to just 12 touches in that underwhelming display, although while he was starved of service the Englishman struggled to retain the ball when he had it, notably squandering possession on five occasions before his withdrawal.
The pacy forward wasn’t the only United figure to let the manager down in attack today, however, with teammate Jadon Sancho also doing little to make an impact against his former club, having notably been dubbed “passive and ineffective” by journalist Rob Blanchette.
The former Borussia Dortmund starlet spurned the chance to spark an early counter with an errant and lacklustre pass, with that mistake ultimately causing fatal as the Cityzens swiftly went up the other end to take the lead.
With the game already beyond Ten Hag’s men, the £67.5m-rated playmaker then had the chance to further plump up the scoreline late on, although ultimately failed to control the ball with just opposition stopper Ederson to beat.
That moment seemingly epitomised what was a measly display in which he also lost possession once every 2.8 touches, while his match rating of 5.9, as per SofaScore, was the joint-third worst of any member of the United starting lineup on the day.
As Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst noted in his post-match player ratings, Sancho was also found wanting in a defensive sense as he ‘did little to protect’ teammate Tyrell Malacia, with the backline simply overrun by their opponents’ fluidity.
It didn’t get much better for the attacker in other areas with the big-money talent failing to complete a cross, failing to complete a dribble and failing to win a single defensive duel.
Such a showing seemingly illustrated just why he remains cast out from Gareth Southgate’s England squad at present – despite calls for his inclusion – with the £350k-per-week man still yet to prove value for money following his £73m arrival last summer.
As for the team as a whole, it truly was “men against boys” on the day – in the words of Blanchette – with the Ten Hag and co brought crashing back down to earth following their recent, short-lived revival.