Having lost out to Bayern Munich in the race for Thiago Alcantara and having had three offers for Cesc Fabregas rebuffed, Ed Woodward and David Moyes could be knocking on Barcelona’s door yet again this winter.
The Daily Express reports that United have expressed an interest in Barca’s Alex Song, the former Arsenal midfielder who moved to the Catalan giants for £16m a year ago but has been struggling to secure a spot in the starting XI ever since.
The knives that had been duly sharpened throughout the summer finally began to come out after Sunday’s derby collapse. Having stepped into the most difficult job in English football, David Moyes’ first Manchester derby was the stuff of nightmares for United fans who watched on as their team was torn apart with mercurial precision by Manchester City.
The aftermath, inevitably, focused on Moyes. United have picked up seven points from their opening five games and while they went on to win the league six times when boasting a similar unimpressive record after the first five weeks of the campaign, it was the manner in which United surrendered to City that casted doubts over their manager and their future.
Wayne Rooney has criticised United’s performance – or rather, lack of – against Manchester City on Sunday, as the Reds suffered one of the most embarrassing derby defeats in recent years.
United ensured David Moyes’ first Manchester derby was one to forget as they surrendered four goals in the first 50 minutes, with City punching holes through United’s midfield at will, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand buckling under pressure against Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo and Danny Welbeck never involved in the game.
When it rains, the saying goes, it pours. United didn’t so much have to negotiate some heavy rain, rather they endured a torrential downpour as they produced one of the most abject derby performances in recent years.
A day that had started badly with the news of Robin Van Persie missing out because of a thigh strain became progressively worse as United’s limits were laid bare and repeatedly exposed by an impressive City side which, painful as it is to admit, thoroughly deserved the win and could have even scored a couple of more goals.
Four games in, and United and City are level at 7 points. Predictions for City this season are sky high with conventional wisdom that Pellegrini will be able to steady the club, and increased spending expected to turn into points.
This is a team many expect to win the title or come very close. City have had a fairly soft start when compared to United, and have looked unconvincing without Kompany. An embarrassing loss to Cardiff and a nervy draw against Stoke show a City side with serious flaws.
Despite fear of a disastrous start of Moyes’ United tenure with such a difficult schedule to begin, United are only 3 points back of the top spot and level with City. Despite a disappointing loss to Liverpool, and a cagey draw against Chelsea, a big win over Swansea, and a very comfortable win over Chrystal Palace have United looking solid if not spectacular.
Wayne Rooney has added to the fire ahead of Sunday’s derby by claiming it is not the biggest game of the season for Manchester United.
Rooney, who’s enjoyed a timely return to form, with three goals in his last two appearances, has told the Mirror that, while City’s emergence as title contenders in recent years has added further interest to an already important fixture for both sets of fans, City aren’t United biggest rivals.
It’s that time of the year again. Sunday sees this season’s first installment of one of the two fixtures that I’d happily scrap from the calendar – Liverpool away being the other – as it gets him stupidly excited on the Friday, utterly pessimistic on the Saturday and terribly nervous on the Sunday – feel free to arrange the feelings and the days accordingly in the case of a Monday or Saturday kick-off.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of turning over City and Liverpool on their own turf as much as anybody else, but the build-up testes my nerves to the limit every single year and it did so even before City became Sheikh Mansour’s latest toy, pardon, project.
Ahead of Sunday’s first derby of the season at the Etihad, Michael Carrick and David De Gea have expressed their belief that Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie are on course to develop into a fearsome partnership.
Van Persie and Rooney were both on target against Crystal Palace on Saturday and they delivered again on Tuesday, as United put four past Bayer Leverkusen in their opening Champions League match of the season.