Manchester United failed to kick on from their two previous wins in the Champions League and Premier League, showing once again on Tuesday night just how big the chasm is between themselves and their local rivals.
David Moyes’ side were lifeless and generally looked well out of their depth. Their opposition Manchester City, were rampant. The 3-0 score line could have been greater had David De Gea not been on hand to prevent Edin Dzeko from grabbing his second soon after the opener.
United’s wins against Olympiakos and West Ham leading up to the Manchester derby gave a better account of the opposition than it did of Moyes and his side. Better teams would have knocked United out of the Champions League last week, while West Ham simply failed to show up this past Saturday.
United’s home defeat to their neighbours was a bitter reminder of just how far the club have fallen. Juan Mata, labelled as the figure to help turn around United’s disastrous campaign, looked well short of his former self; the player who had displayed such comfort and confidence over the past two seasons in the blue of Chelsea. De Gea’s expression said it best when Dzeko was put through by David Silva: where was the protection ahead of him? As for Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, both are simply not cut out for this level. Premier League, yes, but not as a first-team regulars of a club of United’s stature.
Wayne Rooney, amidst all the criticism he and the club have received since he penned an extension to his contract, was one of only two bright lights for United – the other being De Gea. Though even the likely future captain could not disguise just how much work was needed to lift United back up to the level of their city rivals and, painfully, their greatest rivals in Liverpool.
All United are doing at this time is breaking unwanted records. Home losses against teams who haven’t won at Old Trafford in decades; trips to Greece, only to lose to their league representative for the first time; a string of home and away defeats against north-west rivals; and now confirmed as the lowest points total for the club since the Premier League’s inception.
It acts as a warning to those who were quick to label United as having found their rhythm and turned a corner following victories last week. It’s also a reminder to the club’s hierarchy that Moyes far from understands the requirements of challenging a league rival one-on-one, even without the added drama of a title race.
Considering the manner of defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool at home, you have to wonder how long, not how much money, it will take before this club are back where they belong at the summit of the Premier League.