Martin Demichelis atrocious as Man City lose to Man United in the derby
As inexcusable as it was slipshod, Manchester City's derby performance in Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United lacked almost everything that a match of this magnitude requires.
Gumption, shape, fight, energy, spirit and control were nowhere to be seen and Martin Demichelis was the worst culprit, losing Marcus Rashford for the game's only goal and substituted in the second half to save him from himself.
With 10 minutes left to play in a match that had seen the worst United side of a generation come through almost totally unscathed, City gave a brief snapshot of what this derby meant. Possession deep in their own half gave way to a series of flat, sideways passes between Fernando, the by-now displaced Fernandinho and Gael Clichy. Side to side it went. By the time the ball had travelled over the halfway line, it was left to Sergio Aguero to pick it up on the wing and make things happen.
He looked up to find the only target in the box was the hapless Wilfried Bony. There ended the "assault" on United's goal.
With 61, 67, 62 and 70 points after 30 games in the last four seasons, City now sit on 51. This, then, was Manuel Pellegrini's farewell to the Manchester derby.
If his City side maintain their moribund trek towards the finishing line in similar fashion to this, his successor Pep Guardiola, the best coach in the world, will find himself training a side in the Europa League.
(Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Joe Hart, 7 -- Left utterly exposed by Demichelis' defending, conceding one and saving another within a minute of each other. Then put out of the game by the very same player, whose back pass necessitated a sudden acceleration that Hart's calf couldn't handle. Anthony Martial almost nipped in to make it 2-0 and Hart needed to be replaced, all thanks to Demichelis' dreadful passing.
DF Bacary Sagna, 5 -- Kept busy by the lively Rashford and Martial but could offer little or no support to Jesus Navas further up the right side. Dallied with throw-ins and failed to really get to grips with United's willing runners.
DF Martin Demichelis, 2 -- Deemed "nervous" by his manager, an unusual quality from someone so experienced. Directly culpable for the United goal, for the move that almost immediately made it 2-0 and for the injury to his own goalkeeper after a suicidal pass. Atrocious. Hooked on 53 minutes. It was far too late.
DF Eliaquim Mangala, 6 -- Also looked nervous, although there was no update from the manager on his defender's state of mind. Skittish and unsure, he eventually found himself yellow carded thanks to a rash challenge on Jesse Lingard. Looked more comfortable with midfielder Fernandinho alongside him in the second half.
DF Gael Clichy, 6 -- Ineffective going forward and unable to link with David Silva, who was once again out of sorts. Tried hard to shore up the left side and was not to blame for the defensive aberrations elsewhere in his department of the team.
MF Fernandinho, 7 -- Lot of running for so little payback in the first half. Moved to central defence to plug the chasm opened by Demichelis and proceeded to fulfil a high energy role between defence and midfield. Wasted effort, as it turned out.
MF Yaya Toure, 6 -- A lot more effective pushed forward after yet again being asked to fill the inappropriate role in defensive midfield by his manager. Great ball in from the flank for Aguero's glancing header on to the post.
MF David Silva, 5 -- What has happened to him? Supposedly carrying an injury but once again below-par. Simplest passes going astray, muscled out of areas he would normally dominate and not making the best advertisement of his well-known skills to the incoming Guardiola.
MF Jesus Navas, 6 -- Searing start with three chances in the opening half an hour, but gradually descended into the general malaise of a team that appeared to be unable to work out how to break through a distinctly average visiting defence.
MF Raheem Sterling, 6 -- Had hardly had time to complete his first 20 minutes when overstretching for a pass resulted in a muscle injury. Replaced on 24 minutes by Fernando.
FW Sergio Aguero, 6 -- Willing to play all over the pitch to help the cause and City's only player with the guts to take the fight to the opponent. Glanced a header on to the foot of De Gea's post but missed poorly as the game limped into injury time. By then had also missed a number of other chances.
MF Fernando, 5 -- This was more like the poor Fernando of old, with little forward momentum and plenty of going-nowhere sideways passes. No urgency when urgency was badly needed from deep.
GK Willy Caballero, 7 -- Immediately called into action after replacing Hart on 50 minutes and responded well with two good saves.
FW Wilfried Bony, 4 -- On for the wretched Demichelis after 50 minutes and took no time to fit himself into the same vein. Managed the glorious feat of miskicking the first three chances that came his way. Another in need of a damning adjective from his manager.