Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City
I’ll end with a brief mention of some of the players who caught the eye today. For United, Chris Smalling was very, very good in his first Manchester derby. There was a touch of nerves in his early touches, but he was more and more assured as the match wore on. To go from playing non-league football to standing out in this derby in such a short time is really an incredible achievement and an example to anyone not on the fast track to playing for the club of their dreams. (Note to self: do some push-ups or something soon.)
From a man playing in his first derby to one who’s played in a few, Ryan Giggs continues to amaze at the age of 37. He started slowly, but after the first United goal he burst into life. The best part about Giggs is that he get’s older and his game changes a bit, but he still has those moments where he’s flying down the wing and no one can get near him. He had an advert for a fitness DVD at half-time, and I can’t think of a better product for him to sell. How he plays like he does after all these years is anyone’s guess. I think, when it’s all said and done, he retires as the greatest United player of all time.
Nani finished the game with a goal and an assist, further pushing his claim as United’s most important player. He really has become a fantastic player. He can shoot with power on both feet, he’s quick over any distance, great feet, strong, delivers quality service, can play on the left or the right, scores goals, sets them up and most importantly, does all of the above consistently. He is no longer the next Ronaldo, or the other Ronaldo…he is becoming the one and only Nani.
For City, I think the best player on the pitch was Vincent Kompany by a mile. He read the game really well and was never really beaten to anything. City are very hard to break down and he is the reason why. If it wasn’t for a moment of genius, we would all be talking about how invisible Rooney was under his watch.
Ifs and buts aren’t worth much, but another City player could have easily grabbed all the headlines, with a little luck. I am talking about David Silva, who missed out on opening the scoring by inches. Despite that miss, Silva was brilliant for City, pulling all the strings in the midfield, but he wasn’t alone in that area. United won the match, but it was City who looked the classier side in midfield. Silva gives them all the guile and movement you could want, while Toure is a huge presence. To be honest, I think Gareth Barry brings them down and needs to be replaced, but two-thirds of that midfield is as good as they come.
Speaking of catching the eye…Wayne Rooney. I can’t tell you what that goal means to the title race, or to Rooney personally or professionally. I can only describe to you what it meant to me. It was a moment of brilliance which burst into my consciousness, illuminating my mind, body and soul. Everything in the world seemed better and brighter. That goal made me want to be a better person. What I felt when I saw that goal is the reason I love these sports. Is the above paragraph laughably cheesy and melodramatic? Yes. Is the above paragraph absolutely the truth? Yes.