An hour before kick-off last weekend, and there was a palpable sense of nerves among Manchester City supporters ahead of the 188th Manchester Derby.
It was revealed in the run-up to the game that defensive midfield mainstay Rodri had suffered a calf problem in training just 24 hours prior, which rendered him unavailable for the clash against Manchester United.
With Kalvin Phillips in a race to return from shoulder surgery in time for the Qatar World Cup, there lacked a natural replacement in the squad for the Spaniard.
Considering United’s success against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal in transition this season, many Manchester City fans voiced their concerns about the visitors doing the same without the presence of Rodri.
However, the hosts put every doubt to bed during the encounter, taking Erik ten Hag’s men to the cleaners with a 6-3 thumping on Sunday afternoon.
Boyhood blues, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden took matters into their own hands, scoring a hat-trick each to dismantle any hope of United pulling off an upset.
Simultaneously, Ilkay Gundogan deputised for Rodri at the base of midfield and largely without breaking a sweat, while Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake were imperious defensively at the heart of City's back-four.
Courtesy of braces from both Haaland and Foden in the first-half, Manchester United went into the break trailing 4-0, which meant a reported dressing room inquest occurred right after.
As per a report by Neil Curtis and Richard Moriarty of The Sun, Bruno Fernandes and Lisandro Martinez did not mince matters about their side’s performance with a livid half-time rant aimed at their teammates.
The supposed lack of belief from the red side of Manchester was an issue highlighted by the pair, after a dismal first half showing.
It is revealed that Fernandes and Martinez’ rage-fuelled attack was loud enough to be heard by the Manchester City staff outside United’s dressing room at the Etihad Stadium.
Erik ten Hag is understood to have agreed with his two players’ approach and demanded his players to fight for each other in the second 45 minutes.
While Manchester United did end up outscoring the Premier League champions with three goals to two, Pep Guardiola’s side clearly let the foot off their pedal after leading 6-1 as late as in the 73rd minute.
The fact that no such stories have been disclosed about Manchester City is indicative of the contrast between both camps, not just for the time being but over the past decade.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy
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