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City taking pity on United at Old Trafford shows end is near for Ole

JACK GAUGHAN: Man City dominated United at Old Trafford and took pity on their hapless rivals in the second half… Solskjaer is now on borrowed time and his impotent team know itManchester City defeated United at Old Trafford yet still took pity on their rivals Pep Guardiola’s men almost scored a hatful when then weren’t even trying They sat back in the second half and than made the victory even more galling Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now very much on borrowed time as United manager By Jack Gaughan for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:30 EST, 7 November 2021 | Updated: 18:18 EST, 7 November 2021

Manchester United were so bad, the gulf between these two so vast, that Manchester City almost scored a hatful when they weren’t even trying to.

If Pep Guardiola’s team wanted this to end as the sort of massacre that requires the use of vidiprinter brackets, then that’s what it would have been.

But they declared at half-time. Arrogantly so, really, and that made this two-goal mauling even more galling than the 6-1 a decade ago. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unable to get anything from his United players as City ran riot

Guardiola told his players to keep the ball, make United run about after it — something they are not particularly skilled at, it must be noted — and the points were theirs. 

They baited United for the rest of the afternoon and the cheekiest City fan will venture that their team kept this at two to make sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remained in a job.

Not a single substitution because, in the manager’s words, the game was so comfortable. Nobody in blue needed a breather: this was a 45-minute training session.

Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is cutting a dejected figure as each week passes by

Some statistics: United had four touches in the opposition’s box. Four. At home. In a derby. It took them five minutes to cross the halfway line after kick-off. Unfathomably, they had more shots on their own goal than City’s.

Ilkay Gundogan’s 69 touches were the fewest of Guardiola’s outfield players and more than anyone in a United shirt.

When United are ‘back’ — whatever that might look like given ever-dwindling expectations — November 6 will just become another day when their rivals turned up and beat them. Memories of how unfair this bout was, with the hosts’ boots glued to the floor, will fade.

But they were utterly subjugated in a way that City can do to anybody yet should not be allowed to do against ‘the biggest club in Manchester’, to borrow a quote from Solskjaer.

‘Maybe this was the game that we dominated for the most time,’ Guardiola said. ‘Except for 10 minutes of the second half, the other 80 minutes were absolutely under control.’ 

Listening to Guardiola start off by saying ‘let me be gentle,’ when asked about United’s rigid back five was to notice a man taking pity on Solskjaer and it’s all a bit sad. The City fans less so, rolling out their Solskjaer setlist with vim: asking him to give them a wave, praising his driving abilities, wildly pleading for ‘five more years’.

Kevin De Bruyne had the freedom of the midfield with Scott McTominay and Fred struggling

United own no identity other than being the team that Cristiano Ronaldo occasionally bails out because he is Cristiano Ronaldo. Two of their senior players, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, admitted to lacking belief and simply being nowhere near City’s level. 

There is no logical reason for either of those things other than an erosion of standards that their manager has allowed to slowly chip away at a squad crowded with individual quality.

They don’t react to events. They amble, as was demonstrated by both goals when they failed to cut out crosses, leading to an Eric Bailly own goal and a strange Bernardo Silva effort.

They couldn’t string three passes together. The Manchester deluge at half-time made the ball less likely to run freely — and that was entirely to United’s advantage.

Contrast that with the Premier League champions who, while not playing well on a few occasions this season, always come with patterns of play and an idea. And an attitude.

‘That desire when we don’t have it, to recover it and play and play,’ Guardiola said. ‘It’s not that you just attack quicker and you will score more goals, you have to arrive in the right tempo.

‘I love us arriving in the boxes, not being in the boxes. Arriving from behind is the best way to surprise the opponent and we did it.’

Arriving from behind, yes, but City hardly snuck up on United. Solskjaer knew exactly what to expect, bar Guardiola starting two natural wingers rather than the inverted types. 

All he needed to do was take one look at Crystal Palace, who were aggressive and brave in the middle third last week. United were anything but. Instead, here was a scared, impotent team. 

A bit like a fortnight ago, remember that? Superficially it might get better, they might win at Watford, but Solskjaer’s time is borrowed.

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