It was men against boys at Old Trafford for the Manchester Derby, as Manchester City never needed to get out of second gear as they ran out 2-0 winners in what was a pitiful performance from the hosts.
In fact, United had more shots on their own goal than they did of City’s, and such was the visitor’s stranglehold on the game that they didn’t need to make a single substitution to keep the door for a comeback slammed shut.
Such is the malaise that has spread through all facets of Old Trafford that this result is neither a shock, nor is the performance worth getting riled up about.
In a world where the term ‘new normal’ has been part of the vernacular for the past 18 months, this is the new normal at Old Trafford.
A humiliation by Liverpool, a win at Spurs, a last-gasp draw at Atalanta then strangulation by City is seen as ok by Ed Woodward, the board, and the Glazers as long as shirts are still being sold and Champions League qualification is at least mathematically possible.
That their man is devoid of any philosophy, system, or tactics when it comes to facing the Big 6 is of little consequence while the share price is still stable.
As predictable as the result was Solskjaer’s post-match comments, where once again he talked about being disappointed and having to pick ourselves up and keep working.
“It’s very difficult to talk now, of course, because we started the game off badly, passive and when they get the first goal, it was always going to be a difficult game anyway, but being 1-0 down was hard. David [De Gea] kept us in the game, some good stops and then they scored a goal they always score. [Joao] Cancelo cuts inside, cross [to the] back-stick that we know that’s going to happen and it shouldn’t happen. It’s disappointing, of course. It’s hard to talk at the moment. We play against a good team, don’t forget that, but we were nowhere near what our standards and levels can be and that’s something we have to get back to. We’ve got to go back to being on the front foot, be more aggressive, maybe circumstances have made us a little bit more cautious and passive.”
“The result and the manner of the goals we conceded: of course, we’re disappointed with them but we have to get back to what we were. More aggressive, more [on the] front foot and trust ourselves more than what we’ve shown today. I understand that the last couple of weeks have been difficult, but now it’s hard to stand here and talk too much. We have to be more precise on the ball, trust ourselves on the ball, without the ball, be more aggressive, find the angles quicker and play the passes we should be doing.”
“They played well, of course they don’t give you opportunities to win the ball off them. Some praise has got to go to them as well but, of course, we were not at our level and standard, they need to be raised.”
“I’m sure when we come back, the players will be fresh in their minds after the internationals and, of course, the demands on me and the players are going to be high, expectations and we’ve just got to get back to what, as I said, we started to look like and what we were for a while and we’ve got the players to do that.”
“We can’t, or I can’t, look at myself and say this is the way I want Man United to play. I’m in good communication all the time with the club and that’s very up front and honest about the situation. I work for Man United, I want the best for Man United and, of course, as long as I’m here, I want to do what I can do to improve this and that’s going back to what we started to look like, as I said.”
“It’s so hard to go through a game like this and we understand everyone’s frustration and disappointment but these boys will do everything they can and the staff will do everything we can and try to get us back to everything we were: front foot, positive, attacking Man United. We’ll do what we can to do that.”
These latest comments could be copied and pasted from any of United’s defeats of the Solskjaer era, yet nothing changes.
For Solskjaer the international break comes at a good time as, if he keeps his job, it will take some of the pressure off for a short period.
However, for United fans, it will be an awful time where they will see many of their players who are inept in a red shirt put in Herculean performances for their country.
After the international break United have a tricky away game at Watford, where the new normal means escaping with a draw will be seen as a positive result.