Juan Mata has expressed his dejection in the wake of Manchester United’s 1-2 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
The visitors dominated the ball and deserved to go ahead through David Silva just before half time, only for Marcus Rashford to bring Man United back into the game with a crisp finish.
Nicolas Otamendi restored Man City’s advantage soon after the break, however, and the home side couldn’t find a way past Pep Guardiola’s men, with Romelu Lukaku wasting the best chance to score after 85 minutes.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, bemoaned his side’s inability to forge an equaliser in the second half.
“We’re starting yet another busy week with two more games; in this month of December, there’s no truce,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the week as we expected since the derby at Old Trafford didn’t work out as we wanted. City took the lead, we tied the score before the break but, in the second half, we couldn’t overcome their second goal.
“We were close, but in the chances we had, the ball just didn’t go in. The truth is these are three points like in any other game, although the defeat is painful because it was a derby.
“We must carry on, knowing that there’s still a long way to go. The calendar gives you no time for mourning and we have to focus on what’s next.”
The manner in which United lost this game was what hurt the most.
City moved the ball around with imagination and purpose, ensuring every blue shirt – even Emerson – received touches on the ball and a feeling for the game, while United stuttered their way through the game, relying on opposition mistakes and small bursts of hope in front of goal rather than anything sustained or purposeful.
It was, above anything, a damning indictment of the way Mourinho goes about these big games. The Portuguese’s tendency to meticulously study the opposition and stop them from playing first has worked in the past but backfired all too often during his time in the Old Trafford dug-out.
You sense he would benefit from placing greater emphasis on the quality of his own attacking options when it comes to clashes with the top six going forward this season.