Chris Smalling was sent off in the Manchester derby before the half time whistle and then faced the wrath of his new boss. The United defender was dismissed for his second bookable offence, a wild challenge on City midfielder James Milner. In fact, his first offence was a rather badly conceived closing down of Blues goal keeper Joe Hart as he was preparing to drop kick the ball up field.
As for the derby game itself, Manchester City won the game 1-0 with a Sergio Aguero goal in the 63rd minute. The Red Devils responded well to the sending off and held off the inevitable City goal until Aguero popped up with the winner. The sending off definitely changed the game and the ten men of United certainly battled towards a point. However, as Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said in the post match press conference “In a derby you have to be careful – the second yellow card is a stupid yellow card,”.
Despite going a goal down United worked hard and none more so than Robin van Persie and Angel di Maria who both drew fine saves from City keeper Joe Hart late in the second half. However, by this point in the game, Chris Smalling was cooling his heels in the changing rooms. Van Gaal must have been fuming and it will be fascinating to see how both the player and manager respond to the incident.
We all know how Alex Ferguson would have reacted, some agree with his methods and there are those that don’t. But what of Van Gaals methods? This is our first opportunity to see his man management in action and I for one will be looking to see what impact a rollicking from Van Gaal achieves. The lack of European action might actually help United this season to concentrate on the league position.
Silly mistakes are costing the team dearly and 13 points from ten games is evidence of that. With so few memorable performances from so many big names, big egos and bigger salaries the fans will soon be turning on their team if results don’t improve. I for one will be fascinated by the teams response in their next match against Chrystal Palace on November 8th.