Manchester United beat Manchester City in a thrilling Manchester derby with a stoppage time goal from Michael Owen. In one of the best matches of the Premier League history, the champions saw their lead equalled thrice but not to be denied scored a fourth deep into injury time to send the stadium into raptures. Watch the epic battle play out below...
Manchester United host cross town rivals Manchester City in the most highly anticipated Manchester derby in recent memory
The seemingly tasty Manchester derby just gets a bit more tastier
"City will want to show people they are the kings of Manchester but they aren't yet. We have to make sure that doesn't happen. People get jealous and just want to say bad things about our club but we are OK. You always want to win when you're playing City in the derby."
"They are going for the Champions League. It will be difficult against them because they haven't lost. They are ambitious and want to stay in the top four, they've bought a lot of players and beat Arsenal 4-2, so they will be going into the game with a lot of confidence. But we are confident because we are Manchester United. Over the years, we have won a lot more than City and we need to make sure we do that again. We have a lot of respect for City but we are Manchester United and every time we play City we really have to show that."
"I was surprised he left and a little bit angry about it. He's a friend and was a great player for United and when you lose a great player it can be difficult to accept. That's why I was surprised. I kept talking to him, telling him to stay here. I tried to persuade him to stay because I didn't want to lose my friend. But he made a choice and I respect that."
"We have been joking a bit in texts to each other. He told me they are coming to win here. I'll wait for the reception he gets from the United fans but I think Carlitos will do a great job for City. He's a good professional and he respected the United shirt a lot. The fans loved him. I don't know if they will boo him but, anyway, I said to him, "if they boo you, I will boo as well with the fans!" I'm sure he doesn't want to miss this game. I think he might make it because he's a warrior and he wants to play. He had some good reasons to go and I told him "good luck". It's not about one or two players at Manchester United."
Sir Alex needs to put out his best team and not his favored formation because he no longer has the players for a 4-3-3
However, there is something that bothers me. I cannot but think how much last night's performance mirrored the one we put on show on that fateful night in Rome about four months back. There were the same faces for starters, except the obvious missing ones but more importantly there was the same toothlessness in attack, the same lack of ideas in the middle of the park, the same running with the ball towards the corner flag without any idea of what to do with it. All this I put down to one decision...going in with the same formation.
Yes, Sir Alex Ferguson went in last night with the same 4-3-3 combo as he had done against Barcelona and it backfired almost as royally as it that night. The only reason we came away with three points was because we were playing Besiktas last night as compared to Barcelona four months ago. Don't get me wrong, the nightmarish performance against Barca was in no way down to the formation and Sir Alex, to my mind, did start with the best XI he could. But since that night the personnel has changed and Manchester United, to my mind, do not have the players to play a 4-3-3 formation anymore.
The 4-3-3 is a combination that requires a lot of dynamic interchange and the front three need to be very fluid and mobile. Along with this, it is imperative that the front three all have the ability of taking chances and scoring goals on a regular basis. Now, no questions over Rooney but if Fergie thinks that Nani and Valencia can be part of his fluid, dynamic front three, then I would be very alarmed. No offense to Nani and Valencia but they are just not good enough, at least not yet. In effect, what a 4-3-3 now does, is give us a 5 man midfield with Wayne Rooney toiling alone upfront without any support as was amply evident last night and also against Arsenal.
Why Sir Alex chose to go in with a single striker even against a team as low on confidence as Besiktas, I fail to understand. Wayne Rooney's visible frustration on being substituted had as much to do with his inability to find any support as with a sense of disappointment on being subbed. I am sure Sir Alex had given instructions to Anderson and Nani and Valencia to be the support cast but that is not how it panned out. Anderson, for one, needs to think himself of as the attacking midfielder that he is rather than the defensive hard tackler he seems to have become. Michael Carrick needs to up his game very soon otherwise Sir Alex would be tempted to give Gibson a go. He has already indicated to the same earlier in the season.
Perhaps, Sir Alex would have learnt his lessons from last night's insipid performance and would now change his mind about his formations in Europe because simply put a Rooney-Nani-Valencia threesome up top hardly inspires much faith and neither does it strike much fear in opposition ranks.
To Sir Alex now...In him do we trust, still.
Sir Alex Ferguson has played down Wayne Rooney's visible disappointment on being substituted during the second half in Manchester United's first Champions League game of this season against Turkish club Besiktas. Wayne Rooney was distraught at being substituted and was seen throwing his boots down in disgust on the bench. However, Ferguson attributes the reaction down to Rooney's burning desire to play all the time and make a difference.
Sir Alex Ferguson speaks...
"It was always part of our thoughts to bring Wayne off. He had been playing as the lone striker for an hour, which is why he was always going to come off. He is never pleased to come off. He has so much energy he wants to play all the time."
No two ways about Sir Alex's logic though one wonders why Rooney was playing as a lone striker.