De Bruyne Can Step Into Messi Territory
I thought City were exceptional and unplayable at times in the first 30 mins of the game at Old Trafford.
Their one and two touch football was sublime with Kevin de Bruyne rather than David Silva, himself excellent, taking top billing.
I was sat right next to Pep Guardiola doing TV and I have to say his energy and personal aggression towards the players is infectious and you can see why he gets the results he does at clubs.
Take John Stones, so many times during City’s dominant period in the opening half the young England defender after doing things RIGHT was getting a right old rollocking from the gaffer as he could see more, wanted more and demanded more from the youngster.
Ironically the only player he singled out for a cuddle and a big one at that was Kevin De Bruyne, a man I’ve no doubt is so key to City’s way of playing in the coming seasons.
The modern attacking midfielder, he found pockets of space behind Fellaini and Pogba.
He made them go backwards rather than forward. If you add his ability to a 12-15 goal season, allied with his workrate, you can see why Pep is cajoling rather than barracking the Belgian.
United on the other hand only got going in the latter stages of the first half when they managed to put challenges in, use width, punctuate play with set pieces and finally got back into the game with a super finish from Zlatan.
It just wasn’t enough and although the home side peppered the City back line with long raking balls through the second half, I was impressed with how Stones in particular defended, and how quickly they counter-attacked when they won the ball back.
What does this mean for the league? Nothing much, other than City are obviously title favourites for me with Chelsea just behind them and United a work in progress. Rooney still slows the play down, Lingard and Mkhitaryan did themselves no favours as they look to cement a place in the team and Jose mentioned in his post-match presser that he found out more about the mentality of one or two individuals in this game than any so far as United manager.
So as I expected, we may see plenty of chopping and changing in the three behind Zlatan over the coming weeks.
In his post-match comments, Pep played down his team’s ability to challenge in Europe but they will be in the last four, of that I’m sure. But then you’re talking about territory usually claimed by Ronaldo, Messi and co. Do City have one of those guys to stand up and be a guaranteed match winner? Not yet, but watch out for KDB this season, he may end up being the best of the rest.