Manchester United helped cross-town rivals Manchester City inch closer to defending the Premier League title Wednesday night at Old Trafford. Two second-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sané ensured Manchester remained blue and left the Red Devils with even more questions about the state of affairs at Old Trafford.
United started the contest in full control, but Pep Guardiola’s men slowly began chipping away at what little confidence Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side brought to the derby. By the time the hosts could muster any desire to compete, Andre Marriner’s final whistle blew and United slowly found themselves in a losing battle for a top-four finish.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat against Manchester City.
David de Gea has another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad match
David de Gea has been United’s savior more than he’s been a liability. As of late however, it appears the Spaniard has undergone a frustrating dip in form, and it comes at a rather inopportune moment as he seeks a long-term extension to remain at Old Trafford.
The former Atletico Madrid keeper donned the captain’s armband Sunday against Everton, and took some responsibility for the 4-0 thrashing that left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans and critics alike.
Difficult to put what I am feeling today into words. As captain I want to say that the performance of the team today, on top of the result, was not up to the standard expected when you pull on this shirt...— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) April 21, 2019
Perhaps there was nothing the 28 year-old could do to prevent Silva’s opener; however, de Gea mustered just a leg on Sané’s attempt only for the ball to cut into the side-netting and double the opponent’s lead. With a team deficient in players who can assure supporters better days are on the horizon, De Gea’s spell of disappointment is a circumstance many did not see coming.
Solskjaer has his work cut out for him
The next two transfer windows are perhaps the most important of Manchester United’s history in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years. The additions of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and arguably Romelu Lukaku have provided short-term satisfaction over the last couple years. On the other end, United also grossly overpaid for the services of Alexis Sánchez and Nemanja Matić, a regret that will probably take years to overcome.
United’s defeat puts them at seven losses in the last nine outings, their worst streak since 1962. With just two clean sheets at home this entire year and already 50 goals conceded with three games remaining, it’s tough to envision United returning to compete alongside the best clubs in Europe next year. With that being said, Solskjaer now has the responsibility to recruit star athletes on the promise that a domestic title is the highest for which they’ll be able to compete.
There’s self-awareness in the dressing room
Everything that could have gone wrong this year for the Red Devils has gone wrong, and thankfully the players have recognized they too are a huge part of the complications that have rendered this team unwatchable for the last month.
Marcus Rashford had nothing but sobering confessions regarding his side’s performance Wednesday night.
“Today we didn’t play like Manchester United,” Rashford said to Sky Sports. “It’s not right. The bare minimum is to work hard and give all for the badge, the supporters, the club and yourself.”
The Englishman continued: “It has been a tough road to get to where we are, to get there and not be putting up the same performances as we were in January is disappointing.
“We know what’s been going wrong, it’s mentality and willingness to run for your team. Forget the league and top four, you don’t lose this game.”
In his defense, United started the derby well, amassing promising chances in the first 15 minutes. While it quickly faded, it seems the feedback given to them by Solskjaer following the 4-0 embarrassment at Goodison Park weighed heavy on their shoulders as the Red Devils took the pitch Wednesday evening.
At least in this contest, Manchester United can’t be blamed for a shameful lack of effort. But they’re deficient in several key areas. They are inferior to many sides in the Premier League and if they don’t find agreeable solutions to their list of troubles, they may never near the potential of Manchester City.