Disastrous Demichelis undermines transfer policy
Manchester City are a club that like to pride themselves on their forward thinking. This, after all, is the organisation that worked tirelessly across three years to secure the services of the finest manager in the game.
But if they are that together, that sorted, that pro-active, how come they went into such an important fixture with Martin Demichelis in the starting line-up? How come, with the opportunity to end their local rivals' hopes of securing a place in the top four, they played with a centre-back apparently wearing concrete boots?
It would be wrong entirely to blame the Argentine for City's vertiginous decline since early February, a slip that has seen them collect but four of the last available 18 Premier League points, a tumble that puts Pep Guardiola's hopes of being involved in the Champions League next season in jeopardy.
After all, this was Demichelis's first start in seven games. But rarely can City fans have witnessed an individual performance as woeful. And with every leaden-footed stutter, he demonstrated how City's backroom bureaucrats have failed to provide cover for when Vincent Kompany is injured.
Demichelis suffered as close to an hour of hell as can have been witnessed at the Etihad Stadium. Everything he did turned to defeat. It did not assist his well-being that he was facing a player in Marcus Rashford, whose pace would terrify a fully fit cheetah. The young Mancunian will be returning regularly to haunt the Demichelis sleep patterns, the image of him scooting past as if confronted by a traffic cone to score the game's only goal etched deep in the defender's psyche.
And the stand-in centre-back's next involvement was to bring down the youngster with a woeful penalty box intervention. He then shamefully attempted to claim the striker had dived.
Things did not improve in the second half. He put his own goalkeeper's health at risk with a hapless pass back. Joe Hart was stretchered off after injuring his calf in the desperate scramble to clear as Anthony Martial bore down on his misdirected ball.
When he was finally substituted, the applause was driven by relief that the mercy killing had finally arrived. And yet this was Manchester United that City were up against, a bunch out-witted by, among others, Sunderland, Norwich, and West Brom.
Demichelis's embarrassment cannot alone be blamed for the way in which this team is slipping into ignominy.
The self-congratulatory forward planning has inadvertently turned a season in which the title was there to be won into something that everyone involved appears to wish was already over.
The selection of Demichelis was but a symptom of that.