In Manchester City’s 4-1 victory over Manchester United one man could do no wrong, City defender Vincent Kompany.
The Belgian, making only his appearance of the season after a prolonged absence with a groin injury, was sensational in the match.
The City captain’s high line of pressure kept the clamps on the in-form Wayne Rooney, whose goal came by result of a free-kick.
Time after time Kompany displayed his impressive agility, athleticism and reading of the game to snuff out any danger the United attack attempted to muster.
It truly was a master class performance by the center-back and one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Kompany even managed to get in on the goal barrage with a 90 yard galloping that drew the attention of the United defense for Samir Nasri to slam home his side’s fourth of the game.
After the match Kompany was all smiles and when asked what the difference was between City and United on the day, the 27 year old couldn’t resist the temptation.
“I don’t know, maybe the game meant a little bit more to us than it did to them.”
The statement will undoubtedly irk United supporters and there’s little doubt that at least part of the impetus in making the statement was to rib-poke the red side of Manchester. But there’s also an undeniable element of truth to Kompany’s words as a certain desire to win did seem to be missing from Manchester United.
The negative tactics employed by United manager David Moyes did little to help United’s desire to win the match.
Moyes’ blueprint was obvious upon the first kick of the ball – sit back, absorb the City attack and hope to strike on a counter-attack.
City’s energy and desire, however, was too much and with Kompany stepping up high on Rooney early, Moyes refused to make any adjustment to get attackers in behind the City center-back. The result was punishing.
It took three goals to prompt the Moyes to make a change bringing on Tom Cleverley for Ashley Young and reorganizing the side into a 4-3-3. The United attack, however, remained stifled and with Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Javier Hernandez all healthy and ready to go, Moyes resisted inserting any of his offensive weapons.
The game plan of Moyes seemed to reflect something of a disbelief or fear in his side’s chances of winning the match, which arguably translated into the aforementioned lack of appetite.
The Scot’s circumspect approach was eerily similar to the failed strategies he employed while managing Everton during away derby matches at Liverpool. It’s hardly a coincidence that in his 12 years with the Merseyside club, Moyes’ side failed to win a single fixture at Anfield.
To be fair, United fell behind the eight-ball before kickoff when Robin van Persie was ruled out of the derby with a groin injury. Right then, the match was always going to be a difficult one for United to win. But Moyes’ conservative tactics did little to impart a sense of hope in winning the match.
In noting how much City had been looking forward to the derby, Kompany said “there was no reason today that we should fear the opposition.”
After watching United’s display, it’s difficult to believe Moyes bestowed the same sense of belief in his own squad. Questions will be asked.