Updated: Thursday, 5th December 2019 @ 2:39pm

Blue is the colour: Are City now the best team in Manchester?

Blue is the colour: Are City now the best team in Manchester?

By Matthew Stanger

The reality of Manchester City's 6-1 demolition of Manchester United on Sunday is slowly starting to sink in across the blue and red divide.

At the end of a week in which Noel Gallagher topped the UK album chart and The Stone Roses announced their comeback, City's resurrection was also confirmed. After years of torment at being Manchester's second club, the Blue Moon has finally risen.

For United supporters, Old Trafford's 'Theatre of Dreams' became a stage for their worst nightmares as the noisy neighbours cranked up the decibels to the highest level since City's 5-1 victory at Maine Road in 1989. 

Sir Alex Ferguson described the day as his worst ever, with United slumping to their biggest defeat in the Premier League and their worst loss at home since 1955.

But while the record books, not to mention City fans, will remember Sunday's incredible scenes forever, does the result represent a seismic shift in power or was it merely a blip in what will eventually turn out to be another trophy-laden season for the Champions?

Despite United going into Sunday's match unbeaten at Old Trafford since April 2010, it had been suggested that an upset was on the cards. City topped the table after a 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa in their last Premier League outing and an extra-time Champions League winner in midweek had left the Blues feeling full of confidence.

United on the other hand had seen their blistering start to the season begin to curtail. Three of their last five fixtures had ended in draws, with the other two unconvincing victories over Norwich and Otelul Galati. 

With the Champions also allowing a much higher percentage of shots on their goal than usual in recent matches, there were concerns over how they would defend in Sunday’s clash.

The sending off of Jonny Evans may have skewed the final result but even before that incident Mario Balotelli had been allowed to put City ahead with an unchallenged strike from the edge of the area. And although 10 v 11 is a tough test for any team, United’s capitulation at the hands of their fiercest rivals was a shocking sight to behold.

The absence of Nemanja Vidic from the starting line-up was clearly a big loss for United as Rio Ferdinand is still getting back to full fitness, while doubts remain over Evans’ reliability.

Most fans, however, have pointed to a lack of investment in midfield as the reason for why City dominated. Indeed, the Blues have spent heavily on recruiting star names such as David Silva and Yaya Toure in the middle of the pitch whereas United opted to promote Tom Cleverley to the first team this season instead of pursuing a rumoured interest in Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder.

Cleverley’s current injury problems meant that the Champions started with Darren Fletcher and Anderson in central midfield on Sunday, but the pairing were no match for the superb skills of Silva and Toure’s strong running.

For the first time in many years, United fans must’ve felt envious towards the talent possessed by City, as Silva proved to be the main catalyst in their downfall.

The creative Spaniard made a key contribution to almost every goal including a wonderful through ball for Edin Dzeko to slide in the sixth. Currently rated as the best player in the Premier League, if Silva had been wearing red on Sunday it may have been a different tale.

Despite the significance of City’s brilliant victory – and performance – at Old Trafford, Roberto Mancini insisted that United are still the benchmark in English football.

"United are still one yard above us and we can only change this if we win the title. After that it might be different but until then United are better than us," said Mancini.

He added: "I am satisfied because we beat United away. I don't think there are a lot of teams that can win here. This is important for our squad and I am happy for the three points, but in the end it is three points - we don't take six points."

The Italian’s views were shared by Darren Fletcher, who scored United’s consolation goal which sparked brief hopes of a fightback. Fletcher told MUTV: “There is a long season to go. There are no medals handed out at this stage of the season. There are still 20-odd games left.

“It is a bad result losing to Manchester City but this doesn’t mean the league is over. We have to respond and win our next game.”

It’s likely that the five-point gap opened up by City’s victory will serve as an inviting challenge to United, who haven’t topped the table at this stage of the season in their last three title-winning campaigns.

Ferguson always attests to his teams’ improvement in the league after Christmas, and fans are hoping for a championship-deciding rematch on April 28th.

 

Do you think that Sunday’s result represents a power shift between United and City?

Darren: “I’m not convinced. It was a brilliant performance by City but United will still be first in May.”

Colin: “As a neutral, I loved seeing United on the receiving end of thrashing for a change, but I can’t help but think they’ll still win the league.”

Sean: “Beating United in the FA Cup semi-final last year was special, but this was something else. I think it shows City are on the up and United’s crown is slipping.”

Sarah: “I hated every minute of it, but I still think United will finish on top. And if City win it, it’ll only be because all of the money they’ve spent anyway.”

Chris: “I loved going into work on Monday morning. I’m going to love it all week. They might have been more successful than us in the past, but this is our time now and we’re going to enjoy it.”

Dale: “It was a great game but if you want to see real football you should go and watch Oldham play!”