Analyse the game itself, and you find that we gave an impressive and at times stylish account of ourselves. Our main threat came from the right in the form of Micah Richards, who I must say put in a fantastic performance. The right back seems to be returning to the form of old, when he first broke through into the first team. The threat from the right increased when Shaun Wright-Philips entered the fray for the ineffectual Kolarov - another good substitution from Roberto Mancini. SWP put in his best performance for a long time, with vastly improved crossing and dribbling – the kind we know he is capable of delivering but that which also seems to have deserted him for months on end. Its funny how opportunities open up in football – had Adam Johnson not been injured, SWP would likely have exited the club last month. Instead the little winger now has the chance to play his way back into Mancini’s plans. An interesting sub-plot to the season finale.
Aside from Richards and SWP, our big guns stepped up to the plate. Kompany was imperious as usual as the back, and as usual Silva and Tevez were always a threat, playing stylish one twos around the edge of the United penalty area. Indeed it was this intelligent interplay that carved open the United defence in the opening minutes, with Silva toe poking a shot past Edwin Van Der Sar that rolled agonisingly past the post. We all know that its moments like these that come back to haunt you.
That said this was a much better all round performance than at Eastlands.
It came against the run of play on 41 mins when United edged in front. What a soft goal to give away. Lescott failed to win a header that had his name written all over it, the ball bounced to Giggs who quickly lofted a pass to Nani and the rest was history.
All our endeavours deserved the slice of luck that we got in the 65th minute, when substitute Dzeko struck a SWP cross towards goal, only for it to be deflected off the back of Silva and into the back of the United net.
Back United came, but not with the tenacity of our meetings during last season. This time around I felt that we dealt with their attacking threat much better. So much so that it took a combination of luck (Nani's deflected cross, Kompany's slip) and the technical brilliance of Wayne Rooney to see us off.
No prizes are given in football for impressive performances. They took their chances and we didn’t. And that clichéd sentence unfortunately sums up this derby meeting.
If it wasn’t already, now the title is completely gone and we must focus on our cup competitions and the battle for Champions League football. And looking at the league table, there is certainly no time for self lament over this defeat. Tottenham and Chelsea are breathing down our necks with games in hand. We must pick ourselves up quickly.