Thursday 18 January 2018

John Giles: No goals, little passion and not much quality - derby stalemate sums up Manchester clubs

Read John Giles every week in The Herald

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on April 27, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on April 27, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
John Giles

John Giles

Jose Mourinho could not have argued if Gabriel Jesus marked his comeback with a winning goal in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

But the Brazilian wonder-kid, only on the pitch for a five minute cameo following his ten-week recovery from a broken foot, got himself into the game straight away and was marginally offside when he scored.

It was the one time Mourinho’s defence was properly opened up in a derby which lacked just about everything.

No goals, very little passion and not a great deal of quality football either.

What there was came almost entirely from City and the game perfectly illustrated the strengths of both managers, City passing fluently while United defended well and soaked up pressure.

Many times in the past we have seen Mourinho tie up a game to suit his circumstances and without any serious midfield options at hand to do anything but sit deep and invite City forward, he reverted to type.

I was interested to see how United would manage without Paul Pogba but to be honest, I don’t see any great difference.

Pogba’s contribution to United’s season has been patchy and disappointing. He won’t run a game for Mourinho or anyone else.

Mourinho is desperate for decent midfield players and Marouane Fellaini’s mad red card moment underlined that fact.

City had Yaya Touré pulling the strings while Mourinho relied on the less than whole-hearted Henrikh Mkhitaryan who was overwhelmed by the occasion and by City’s passing.

For Guardiola, the obvious weakness was at the back and Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi looked scared stiff of Marcus Rashford before Toure got a grip and reduced United to a very occasional long punt forward.

At least they were arranged in a four man defence and as has been the case for a while now, Guardiola favoured orthodoxy over theory.

He still wants his to play a high line for free-kicks which I believe creates a big vulnerability as shown by Ander Herrera right on half-time when he stole in at the back-post unmarked.

Another issue for Guardiola is the fact that he has one option up front, Sergio Aguero, but not much else.

It was understandable when the biggest cheer of the night came from home fans at the Etihad when Guardiola sent on Jesus.

His impact was immediate and almost spectacular but just came up short on a night which suited Liverpool most of all in the race for the top-four positions.

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