Manchester United’s dire showing in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat to neighbours City prompted David Moyes to criticise his players for the first time in his reign.
Not since 2004 have the champions begun a Premier League campaign as poorly—taking seven points from a possible 15 this term—and Moyes confessed he told his squad a few home truths after goals from Sergio Aguero (2), Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri embarrassed United at the Etihad.
Reported by David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror, Moyes said:
I’ve been here before with Everton and never suffered a defeat like this. So I just told the players, in the same way I would have told players at any other club, if I don’t think they’re doing it.
They’re good players, they’re good pros, they know when they’re bang at it and when they’re not. City were the better team, they were stronger, they got control of the game and we found it difficult to contain them.
I’m disappointed we didn’t perform. There was no reason for us not to perform.
For the third time this season, United have failed under Moyes to win a big game. Chelsea came for a draw and got one at Old Trafford, while Liverpool and City have both inflicted pride-denting defeats on the Red Devils.
Judging by Sunday’s encounter, United are not even close to their neighbours, who were dominant from start to finish.
United did not have talisman Robin van Persie due to injury, but they were bullied in midfield and pulled all over the place in defence, while Wayne Rooney was unsupported upfront.
In five Premier League games this season, United have scored from open play in only one of them—the opening day at Swansea.
If Moyes’ one big summer signing, Marouane Fellaini, was supposed to add steel to the United midfield, he was a very poor imitation of the domineering Yaya Toure, who towered over every United player.
Fellaini barely contributed in attack, troubling Joe Hart only once with a left-footed drive, while in defence the Belgian completed one tackle in 90 minutes, per FourFourTwo. He also lost his man for Toure’s crucial goal on the stroke of half-time.
Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail reports that Moyes demanded a response in the midweek League Cup tie against Liverpool, saying, “The way they have been brought up, the way they have been bred with the manager previously, they react, and that’s what we’ll do here. We’ll make sure we react.”
Urgency and intent will surely be two of the factors Moyes demands from United, who enjoyed 58 percent possession and completed 412 passes to City’s 269, per FourFourTwo, yet never looked like winning the match.
In games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and City, United have been sluggish in their build-up play, lacking the edge often displayed under Sir Alex Ferguson. Moyes will hope his show of anger reminds the players of the culture instilled by their former boss.