Gary Neville: Manchester United lost the derby after the first five minutes

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville claims Manchester United’s derby defeat last weekend was on the cards after just five minutes.

Jose Mourinho suffered his first loss as Man United manager against Manchester City after his game plan miserably failed, giving Pep Guardiola’s side a 2-0 lead in the first-half.

His side fought back after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal, but the damage had been done after a calamitous first-half.

Speaking after the game, Neville noted Mourinho’s side were beaten after just five minutes.

“What we’ve seen today is Pep Guardiola coming here with his team and answering a lot of questions,” he said.

“They showed in the first half that they can dominate like he had done previously at his other clubs, but in the second half they withstood enormous amounts of pressure and long balls.

“It was the first five minutes. There were the two runs down the left channel where you thought, ‘there’s a problem there’.”

Mourinho brought a carefully devised game plan to this contest with Guardiola and it failed. Miserably failed.

The flaws in his approach were immediately apparent: the lack of a genuine defensive midfielder meant that Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva – all deployed further forward and interchangeably – could exploit the glaring gap between midfield and defence.

The decision to use Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the wings was wrong for several reasons: both were clearly rusty after returning from injury, and as players who don’t specialise in running in behind or stretching defenders, Guardiola’s system was easily capable of containing them, almost by default, leaving United with no platform from which to test Man City’s zonally composed defence, and in turn allowed the visitors to mount pressure and take the game away from Mourinho’s side.

Mourinho, a pragmatist above anything, addressed these evident faults at half-time, but the damage had already been done.

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