Manchester City’s Erling Haaland struck his first two goals at Old Trafford as they ran over Manchester United in a 3-0 thrashing in a heated English Premier League derby.
City once feared a trip to Old Trafford but painted the town blue once more with the victory over a demoralised United on Sunday to reassert their dominance.
Pep Guardiola’s treble winners are third in the standings on 24 points after 10 games, two points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur. United, whose defeat was their first in four games in all competitions, are eighth with 15 points.
United have lost six of the last eight matches against their local rivals, including a 2-1 FA Cup final defeat last season.
“Amazing. A fantastic win and the game was incredible and the team, everything,” said Haaland.
“It is definitely one of the best wins,” added midfielder Bernardo Silva.
“To win 3-0 away with this crowd, I think it is definitely one of the best performances.”
Haaland, whose 11 league goals this season equals United’s total goal output, converted a penalty in the 26th minute when VAR showed Rasmus Hojlund had pulled down Rodri at a free kick.
The Norway striker calmly slotted the spot kick into the bottom right corner with what was remarkably City’s first penalty awarded in 27 Premier League trips to Old Trafford.
GET INNNNNNNN!!! Thanks for the support City fans 🤩🔥💙 pic.twitter.com/VUOpX8xUGx
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) October 29, 2023
‘Ten more years’
Not since United last won the league in Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge, in 2012-13, have the Red Devils finished above their local rivals.
That run looks destined to go on for another season, with the clubs worlds apart on and off the pitch.
The travelling City support taunted the home fans with chants expressing the hope that United’s unpopular owners, the Glazer family, would remain for “10 more years”.
Initial optimism among the United fanbase that the Americans would sell the club they have controlled since 2005 looks likely to have been misplaced, with British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe set to settle for a minority stake after a year of negotiations.
United’s demise under the Glazers has coincided with the rise of City as the dominant force in English football, thanks to backing from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
But money is not the only reason for the disparity in the performances of both clubs.
United have outspent City in the transfer market in recent years but have wasted millions in the process.
Despite his side’s struggles to score goals this season, United boss Erik ten Hag left expensive attacking talent in Antony and Mason Mount on the bench.
Finding solutions for a season that threatens to spiral out of control is now ten Hag’s job.
The Dutchman enjoyed plenty of plaudits for his first season in charge as he returned United to the Champions League and ended a six-year trophy drought by lifting the League Cup.
However, after another period of heavy investment in the summer transfer window, United have gone backwards at an alarming rate.
That quote from Pep Guardiola is a monstrous dig into the running of United! 👇
Pep Guardiola on the secret of @ManCity. “We are in the same direction, me, the CEO, the sporting directors, the chairman. That is why I think the club is so stable.”
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 29, 2023
‘Long way back’
A return of five defeats from their opening 10 league games means the club have made their worst start since 1986-87, while they are also in severe danger of failing to make the Champions League knockouts.
Ten Hag’s decision to replace striker Rasmus Hojlund was met with a chorus of boos for the second time this season by the Old Trafford crowd and thousands marched out after Foden’s goal 10 minutes from time.
“It’s different levels,” said former United midfielder Roy Keane.
“The United players are just short in every aspect, technically and tactically. It’s a long way back for this team.”
Frustration towards the Glazers has largely shielded ten Hag from criticism so far.
But questions are beginning to be asked of the former Ajax boss, with United languishing eighth in the table, eight points adrift of the top four.
Matching City already looks an impossible task as Guardiola’s side targets another historic landmark.
Fresh from matching United’s crowning glory under Ferguson by winning the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in the same season, City are now aiming to become the first side to win the English top flight for a fourth consecutive year.