It was a brilliant game for the neutrals, and was played with the utmost flippancy that one expects from such an occasion. There was no somnolence that was symptomatic of Old Trafford under the likes of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. In fact, it was perhaps too entertaining and open for Jose Mourinho’s liking, as his fierce rival, Pep Guardiola’s team having most of the joy, won the fixture 1-2 away at Old Trafford, maintaining their momentum, and consolidating their credentials as possible title winners so very early on, this season.
Here are 5 things The 4th Official’s resident hipster, Srijandeep Das learned at Old Trafford.
#1 Joe Hart had a laarf.
Here’s a trick question, to garner your attention. Which one of these has more flaps?
a) The seal from Water World
b) Boeing 777 manufacturing plants in China
c) A Nepalese flag at the base camp of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world
d) Claudio Bravo at Old Trafford?
Now, to be fair, the answer can’t be D, considering the wind velocity at 6000 meters above sea level, and the fact, that China has, per square feet, more labour resource than any country in the world, apart from maybe, India. So, it’d be between Sally the seal from Water World and Claudio Bravo. Oh, the suspense.
Here’s a lesson for every aspiring young manager in the world, who are bent on playing the game the utopian way – you can’t have your utopian cake and eat it too. The number of percentage points that 54% is lesser than 84%, in terms of pass completion index of Joe Hart’s and Claudio Bravo’s, cannot be quantified, or in fact, be justified in terms of sheer goalkeeping ability.
While, yes, maybe, it was a case of jangling nerves, and the occasion that had gotten the better of the former Barcelona pass master, the tempo and the rigors of the league will not make his job any easier, nor incite confidence between the sticks. It remains to be seen if the abundantly rattled Claudio can come to terms with the physicality, the lack of protection, and the pace of the English game offers. And if the old adage, of not fixing what’s not broke will ring up Pep at the end of the season and affirm it’s veracity.
#2 Marcus Rashford Is The Ray Manzarek to Man United’s Doors
You may have the electric Jim Morrison on centre-stage leading the procession, John Densmore on the drums doing his share of graft, Robby Kreiger making things tick, but you are always going to need Ray Manzarek on the keyboard. Amidst the likes of Zlatan, Wayne Rooney, and Mkhitaryan, Rashford holds his own, with his own tune, that makes others get on board the collective United symphony.
Before he came on, United had all the intent but very little direction. 15 minutes after he was subbed on, the England under-21 international was already United’s best orchestrator.
#3 Pep punk’d Jose Mourinho
It was all too easy in the first-half. The way the match was being played, you’d think, Pep had his FIFA 07 on, and was button mashing his through ball button at every given opportunity. The (not-so) United defence, was consequently caught flat-footed on the break, uncannily like game mechanics from the aforementioned football simulation game.
The irony of the whole situation was the way the goals were conceded by Jose’s team. Those two goals, with their respective passages of play, are as Jose Mourinho-variety goals as they come. One, was your routine, route 1 long-ball, nodded on by Iheanacho in the path of Kevin De Bruyne, who used his knock-on button, to glide past the non-existent United backline, before giving the goalie, the eyes, and slotting in low at the. The second goal, against the run of play, was a result of City hitting United on the counter after soaking the pressure.
#4 Fellaini is an inspiration
I’m 24, slightly over-weight, with all the coordination and agility of a silver-back gorilla, unicycling on a tight rope…. while juggling flaming chainsaws. However, seeing Fellaini play for Manchester United, gives me hope, that if I tried hard enough, and pursued my dreams of becoming a professional footballer, some 5 years down the line, I may turn up for Notts County or Manchester United, if my luck holds out.
The Belgian is a misunderstood creature. He only flails his arms because he has to. His balance gets offset by the drag produced by his afro, which by now, looks rusted and inextricable. Those elbows give him locomotion.
#5 De Bruyne is De Boss
His drive on the ball gets even more impressive, as he readily found space, time and time and time and time and time and time again. His cleverness on the ball and his clarity on it paved the win for Pep’s side. Scored on, supplied the other, and was at the very centre of everything good about Manchester City – without a doubt, in my estimation, the best attacking midfielder in the league. The player, who not so long ago, destroyed Pep’s Bayern, donning the green of Wolfsburg, was the hero for the gaffer this time.