Gary Neville took aim at four players who gave Man Utd no chance of defeating Man City, though did defend an unlikely quartet after the 6-3 mauling.
Manchester United entered Sunday’s derby aiming to prove how far they’ve come under Erik ten Hag. They’d racked up four league wins on the spin prior to facing Man City, though it quickly became apparent the streak would end.
City raced into a four-goal lead at half-time – the same scoreline by which United trailed Brentford at the break earlier this season.
The score reached 6-1 before United fired home a pair of late consolation goals. However, the true story was told in a punishing first half.
Gary Neville too took shots at the Red Devils, claiming they “bottled” it in the first half.
Speaking during Sky Sports’ broadcast, Neville said of the late United goals: “It’s a consolation. City have made four changes, the game has got a bit open.
“United have scored three goals and obviously got better in the second half.
“But the story of the game is that he’ll [Ten Hag] look at that first half where his team froze and they no doubt bottled it.
“They weren’t anywhere near this game or occasion and that’ll be the part of the game that he’ll analyse most. To score three goals here is some consolation.”
After taking time to digest the defeat, Neville picked out four Manchester United players who were to blame and four more who weren’t.
The outspoken pundit acknowledged the defenders did not cover themselves in glory.
However, he stressed they were given little chance by two midfielders and two attackers who instilled “negative vibes” throughout the team with their sloppy and naive play.
McTominay, Eriksen, Fernandes and Rashford to blame?
“It was the unforced errors, the anxiety on the ball and the lack of composure,” he told the Gary Neville Podcast.
“I’m not talking about the defenders at the back who are being pressed. But the midfielders and the forwards: Rashford, Eriksen, Fernandes, McTominay.
“They were all giving it away in that first half unnecessarily. It just then brings further negative vibes throughout the team when your best players aren’t handling the ball well. They should’ve been better, a lot better.
“They were forcing it far too early. It’s almost like they got into their heads, when they get it they’ve got to counter attack, they’ve got to put the ball in behind City.
“But to do that you’ve got to play those two or three passes in midfield and through midfield to set it up.
“You can’t just think you get the ball, play one pass, turn and knock it over the centre-backs. Even if they’re not City’s best centre-backs, they’re going to read that.
“It just became really simple for City’s defenders to be able to cope with it.”
Man Utd defenders not the real issue – Gary Neville
“There were problems with Dalot in defence. There were problems at centre-back with Varane and Martinez and there were problems with Malacia at left-back.
“There’s no doubt they didn’t have their best day. But the standout thing for me was just how badly Manchester United’s players in midfield and up front handled the ball in the first half.”
Neville added: “It’s difficult. I expected them to handle it better but I wouldn’t put the blame of today on the back four.
“I’m more disappointed with how Manchester United’s midfield and forward players were. I thought it was really poor in that first half.
“They didn’t turn up and you’ve not got a chance if they don’t.”