The Manchester derby failed to live up to the hype as both United and City shared the spoils at Old Trafford.
The away side’s best chance to score was denied by David de Gea, who did well to block Riyad Mahrez’s first-half effort. While in the second-half, Kyle Walker’s foul on Marcus Rashford inside the City box led to a penalty, only for VAR to overturn the decision for offside. Apart from these two chances, both sides failed to create any other major opportunity to claim all three points in the 183rd Manchester derby.
Although the Old Trafford outfit have now failed to score in three home league games this season, it’s not all doom and gloom for them.
1. Situation In Control
Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League following an embarrassing defensive performance against RB Leipzig. The pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would’ve increased tenfold following a derby defeat in a successive match.
A clean sheet for a fragile defence against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded side will only steady the ship for the manager at the helm at Old Trafford.
It is never easy to handle a defeat at the hands of your fierce rivals during a tough period, as Jose Mourinho faced the sack in the same month two years ago, after a 3-1 loss against Liverpool at Anfield.
2. Comfortable In the League Table
If the progress under the Norwegian this season is solely judged by his side’s position in the league table, the current scenario doesn’t seem as disastrous as it’s painted on social media.
The derby stalemate kept the Red side of Manchester a point above their city rivals, and just five points off the league leaders Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool with a game in hand.
3. ‘Not the best result but the best performance’
Manchester United’s counter-attacking football produced a league double for the Red Devils in derby last season, but there’s a reason why Solskjaer, in his post-match press conference, described a 0-0 boring encounter as ‘the best performance we have had’ during his time in charge against Man City.
The City boss showed his respect for Solskjaer’s side by deploying two defensive midfielders in Fernandinho and Rodri, while Solskjaer refused to just sit and wait for an opportunity to counter and instead asked his side to go toe-to-toe with their rivals. Not many teams in the Premier League are capable of managing 46% possession against a Pep Guardiola side.
The Norwegian tactician’s approach was bold and with a little bit of luck and smart decision-making from inexperienced forwards, the goals will arrive as well.