The stats are damning for United. On passes in the final third, they lost 215-74. On shots, 21-7. On expected goals, it shouldn’t have been 3-0: it should have been 4-1 – United 1.03, City 3.94. “An outstanding performance,” says Micah Richards. “We’re watching some of the best football the Premier League has ever seen.”
Time for a couple of emails. “Ten Hag should have played Bobby Charlton’s ghost,” says Ray O’Hanlon. “At least we could dream of a 40 yard cannon…”
“My daughter,” says Tom Atkins, has just asked me ‘Why is Man United’s squad a bit weird?’, and I know what she means.”
The upshot is that City are all but level with Arsenal – same number of points (24 from ten games), same goal difference (+15). Arsenal have scored one more (23-22), so they remain second and City are third for now.
United are still eighth, which is where they finished three seasons in a row as the glorious team featuring Best, Charlton and Law faded to grey. The table doesn’t lie: United have lost as many games as they’ve won (five apiece), and the losses have been by wider margins (goal difference -4). They have been worse than all the big six bar Chelsea – and worse than Villa, Newcastle and Brighton to boot.
Pep hugs all his players, one by one. After those wobbles at Molineux and the Emirates, City are themselves again. Erling Haaland scored twice to extend his lead at the top of the goal-scoring pops.
United may have been bright early on and a little unlucky with the penalty, but from half-time onwards they were made to look like amateurs. The margin of victory ends up the same as this time last year, when they lost 6-3.
It was only in doubt for the first ten minutes.
90+4 min Antony and Doku are still chuntering at each other. It is going to be Haaland, but the kick is charged down by the wall.
90+4 min City have a free kick in an inviting position near the D. Will they let Haaland take it?
90+3 min Another booking for United, and it’s Bruno Fernandes, apparently for dissent. It’s his fourth of the season. He is not a good captain when United have a bad day.
90+2 min Antony goes into the book for a blatant kick at Doku. “Ridiculous,” says Neville.
90+1 min There will be four more minutes. Time for a fourth goal, surely.
90 min Garnacho is bringing his usual energy, but it’s all over bar the chanting.
89 min The player of the match is the puller of the strings, Bernardo Silva. He is chosen by Gary Neville, who says he’s been “a joy to watch”.
88 min Some subs at last from Pep, who sends on Doku for Grealish, who played very well, and Kovacic for Alvarez. Not sure he needs to defend this lead.
86 min Ten Hag gives the dice one last roll, bringing on Antony and Anthony Martial for Rashford and Eriksen. So Mount makes another move, back into central midfield.
85 min A flicker from United as their fans head for the exits in the rain. Rashford wins a corner, Fernandes hits it to Eriksen near the D, but his shot is swiftly blocked.
84 min “Second half,” says Gary Neville, “they’ve been obliterated, United.” He’s been their best performer on the day.
82 min City cruise forward again as their fans do the Poznan. Foden, in the centre-forward position again, tries a tribute to Wayne Rooney, a derby scissor kick. It goes just wide.
80 min Rodri had ages to take a shot, which Onana could only parry into the path of Haaland to his left. Haaland was unselfish enough to cross for Foden, who tapped in. There’s still time for this to turn into a rout.
And that is that.
78 min No subs yet from Pep: his team are having too much fun. When they get into the United box, they are outnumbered by seven to five, but they still knock the ball around with impunity.
76 min Fernandes has moved to No 10, as mooted, and Mount is now on the right. The cameras find Gareth Southgate, looking pensive in a grey mac.
73 min A mess in the United box which they just get away with. Two changes from Ten Hag: Reguilon replaces Lindelof at left-back. But the left-winger who may profit from that is Garnacho, who’s coming on for Hojlund. So Rashford will move into the middle and Hojlund’s wait for a PL goal will go on for another week.
71 min After some patient build-up, Grealish slips in Haaland, who can smell that hat-trick… but Onana comes out well to save the shot, David de Gea style.
“Not sure at which point this is declared a thrashing” says Rick Harris, “but it could get rather ugly as Ten Hag appears to lack the ability to change the dynamic. Not sure Mainoo is a good idea, but Garnacho and Hannibal would inject some energy surely?” Good call.
69 min Chance for United! Rashford is sent through the middle by Eriksen. He does well to carve out some space under pressure from Walker, but then he drags the ball wide. That’s his season in a nutshell.
69 min And another corner, coolly defended by City.
67 min McTominay’s does well to win the ball high up, then misfires with the pass. But now United have a corner.
66 min Mount sets Dalot free down the right, but his cross is the worst of the lot, drilled straight to John Stones.
63 min United finally see a bit of the ball. Eriksen has a cross, but can’t find the three red shirts in the middle; Fernandes has one too, with the same result. Ten Hag may need to push him back into his natural habitat as the No 10.
63 min City’s latest shot is a wild one from Julian Alvarez, who has quietly become an ever-present.
61 min Erik ten Hag needs to do something fast. Maybe put Reguilon on at left-back and get Lindelof into Amrabat’s spot in midfield. Or send for Kobbie Mainoo.
60 min Nobody has ever scored two PL hat-tricks against Manchester United. They just have to hope Haaland doesn’t know that.
58 min City have five men in the box and one in the D. They weave another tapestry and it would end in a goal if any of those queuing up had gambled and gone in to meet Grealish’s crisp low cross.
56 min City are back up to third now, behind Arsenal by one on goal difference. They may soon be second.
55 min City are beginning to lord it. Walker plays a nonchalant back heel. He and Rodri are practically playing as forwards.
53 min United paid the price there for taking off Amrabat. McTominay has his hands too full in defensive midfield.
50 min That was far too easy. A comfy City move ends with Silva free on the left, able to play another of those lethal chips of his. It’s on a plate for Haaland, who nods it firmly into the net, just as he should have with the chance that Onana saved.
Haaland is well on his way to another derby hat-trick.