More Red flags for Ole's United as Manchester remains Blue

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City reign supreme at Old Trafford

Manchester City recorded their third derby victory in four attempts on Wednesday night to return to the summit of the Premier League and send out a big statement to rivals Liverpool. Goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane ensured that Pep Guardiola's men have their title destiny in their own hands as they look to become the first since Manchester United in 2009 to win the top flight in consecutive seasons.

It was a real classy display from the Champions in a game that looked like the major hurdle standing between themselves and a fourth Premier League title. After a tense first half, they asserted their dominance and deservedly rolled out convincing winners in front of a delighted Pep Guardiola who headed and kicked every ball from the sidelines during the ninety minutes.

For years now City have had some of the best talent in European football but they've lacked that consistency, desire and motivation to keep winning and become the countries dominant force. But under the Spaniard they have a philosophy and way of playing that makes them so easy on the eye but devastating at the same time. Guardiola has revolutionised City as a football club and there are some truly exciting times ahead for their supporters, with them on the verge of becoming the first ever English team to complete a domestic treble.

Bernardo Silva
PFA Player of the Year nominee Bernardo Silva played a starring role in City's victory at Old Trafford

But on the flip side of all the elation, positivity and success in the blue half of Manchester, the red side look in the worst shape they have done for some time. Despite the initial impact of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in as Jose Mourinho's replacement, United have dropped off massively. Seven defeats in nine games has resulted in them exiting both The FA Cup and Champions League along with seriously jeopardising their top four hopes.

Wednesday night was a massive opportunity for them to really get the fans on board and silence their critics after their 4-0 hammering by Everton on Sunday but instead it was another disappointing night. Manchester United are a club that should be challenging for titles but the gulf in class between them and their blue rivals shows that they're miles off that and it could be some time before they add to their 13 Premier League titles - the last of which came back in 2013.

This is the longest that the Red Devils have had to wait to win the title since the Premier League's inception back in 1992 and with one of City or Liverpool winning it this year - that wait will surely feel like an eternity to their supporters.

City setting an example on and off the pitch

Football is a game that's becoming more and more dominated by money, with the richest clubs generally the most successful. There aren't many that can boast the wealth of Manchester City but it was they do with their financial super power that makes them so impressive. This season we've seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid - three massively wealthy clubs - all underperform with their expensively assembled squads.

But City on the other hand have a set transfer policy and their work off the pitch is just as impressive as what they do off it. Yes they have the funds to go for pretty much any player in the world but they don't rush around, in the past we've seen them miss out on the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Jorginho but they haven't gone out and panic bought - something which wasn't the case in the early days of the Sheikh Mansour era (Wilfried Bony, Roque Santa Cruz). But under Pep they're happy to wait and assess their options, ensuring that any new arrival is the right fit both as a player and as a character for the group.

Whereas on the other side of the city we've seen United dishing out mega money for the likes of Angel Di Maria, Romelu Lukaku, Fred and that man Sanchez (along with several others) who've all been inconsistent at best. City are now setting an example to some of the big clubs around the world as how to do things and they've been mightily impressive at it.

Evidence of this was on display at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. When looking at the teamsheet City's side looked far superior to that of United and it told on the pitch, but rather shockingly in terms of price tags there was little to separate them as Roy Keane and Gary Neville discussed on Sky Sports.

The derby victory feels like an important moment in the title race and City now know if they win their final four games of the season (3 PL & 1 FA Cup) they'll make history and become the first English club to win the domestic treble. Barring their shock Champions League exit at the hands of Tottenham, Pep Guardiola's men are finding their mojo at the crucial time after winning an incredible 11 Premier League games in a row which is a massive achievement. But despite that you can't help but feel they'll be slightly disappointed after missing out on an unprecedented quadruple - such are the expectations and demands at the Etihad Stadium.

It's been a magnificent third year in charge for Guardiola and 6 of his players have been rewarded with spots in the PFA Team of the Year, which was announced this morning. Ederson, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero all deservingly made the cut, they'll now be hoping that they can crown the campaign with that PL title and of course The FA Cup, with them taking on Watford at Wembley on 18th May.

Long road to recovery for United

Wednesday night was a big opportunity for Manchester United to show that they're still a force to be reckoned with against an elite City side, but once again they failed to deliver. The honeymoon period is certainly over for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Norwegian will now be fully aware of the massive job on his hands to restore order at Old Trafford and get the Red Devils back where their history suggests they belong.

Sunday's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Everton was one of the lowest moments in the clubs season and Wednesday demanded a response. Their first half display showed some promising signs but as they game progressed, City's class and dominance increased as United were phased out.

It was a tough watch for the Old Trafford faithful, many of whom have grown up with City in their shadow but now it's evidently the other way round and it looks like they may have to get used to it. Manchester United as a whole are absolute shambles compared to what they were in the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer knew taking the United job would be a massive challenge, but 7 defeats in 9 highlights the scale of the work required

The Red Devils were one of the most feared sides in Europe, set up with a clear playing style, a dominant leader in Ferguson and OT was a scary place to go. But that aura around the club has certainly been extinguished. The retirement of their greatest ever manager coupled with the departure of David Gill has hit them harder than they ever could've imagined.

Ed Woodward is the man with the power at United and it's fair to say that he's not popular with the supporters. His decisions have been somewhat questionable when it comes to the clubs transfer policy, making some strange signings and handing out some ridiculously lucrative deals (cough, Sanchez, cough).

The club needs to move in a new direction and perhaps looking at how City do things is somewhere to start. Their pool of scouts have seem them assemble a vibrant, young and more importantly winning squad. Pep Guardiola has a major say in their transfers, but he's aided by Director of Football Txiki Begiristain - someone he knows well from his Barcelona days - to aid him in player recruitment.

United legend Gary Neville has said countless times that the Red Devils need to move with the times and bring in someone of Begiristain's ilk to help ensure that United aren't stung in the transfer market as they have been in previous seasons. They simply can't continue to make the mistakes they have in the post-Fergie era with the likes of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Fred and Sanchez who've all proven to be expensive flops.

Fred Manchester United
£52m man Fred endured another underwhelming evening in the Manchester derby

Should they miss out on a top four finish - which is looking increasingly likely - United will play next season with no Champions League football. A club of that size should always be involved in Europe's elite competition and it will make it slightly harder & expensive to attract the calibre of players they're looking for to Old Trafford.

This summer is arguably the most important one since Sir Alex departed the club. Solskjaer has made it clear there's going to be a overhaul and they just have to get the recruitment right or they could be left even further behind by their north west rivals and the rest of Europe. United are 25 points off the pace in the title race and it's something that just can't continue if they're to progress as a football club.


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