In what's turned into a lost season for Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City, the squad had a chance to ease doubts about their Champions League merits with a win against rivals Manchester United in today's derby. But, after a strong start, City reverted to their usual 2015 form and were proven not to be worthy of sharing a field with that team in red, losing a 4-2 decision that wasn't even as close as the final score indicated.
So what'd we learn from today's disappointing match? We learned a lot.
1. City can control a match for a little while!
The first fifteen minutes of today's game were the most excited I've been while watching City play in 2015. They were using their usual bulk of possession to pepper the United penalty area with crosses that weren't terrible! They were pressuring United's defense consistently, rather than just passing the ball around the outside of the 18 yard box harmlessly! It was great, even if it was short lived. While this post, and this day, are supposed to consist of nothing but gloom and doom after a terrible final 75 minutes, that was a positive and worth noting.
2. But City can't control a full match
After that glorious stretch at the beginning of the match, City were blown out of Manchester, reverting back to the City we've seen after Boxing Day. Many are attributing the nearly four month run of poor play to a lack of heart, or just having an aging team (truthfully, the answer is a combination of the two, combined with Pellegrini doubling down on his philosophies and those philosophies backfiring spectacularly time and time again). Whatever the combination of reasons may be, though, the fact remains that this City team cannot be the better side for the majority of a match right now, let alone a full match.
City haven't led a match at the half since Boxing Day, back in 2014. That is staggering for a team with this much talent and money on the field at all times. And that's where their season has descended to.
3. The midfield and defense were destroyed
After that opening flurry from City in which Navas and Silva looked completely untouchable, there weren't many good things to be said about City's midfielders and defenders today. Given that the team played just one striker today, that means that nine of City's eleven players didn't look good enough for the majority of one of the biggest games of the team's season. That is a problem.
Most notable, of course, was Yaya Toure, who was bossed repeatedly by Marouane Fellaini, of all people. While Toure's best fit right now may not be that of a defensive midfield role, you'd still expect him to perform better than he did today. It looks clear that he has checked out and is ready to move into a club willing to hire the damn Cake Boss every time he gets a year older.
Elsewhere, Gael Clichy did everything short of tearing his City shirt in half to reveal an Arsenal kit underneath, and Martin Demichelis was awful as well, especially on United's second goal, a header for Fellaini that a central defender should have snuffed out rather than let an outside back deal with.
4. Don't blame Joe Hart
Joe Hart gave up four goals today, technically. But to lump him in with the other City players who fell short today would be incredibly cruel given that he was repeatedly let down by the players in front of him.
United's four goals came off of a deflection that caught Hart out of position for Ashley Young, a free header for Fellaini, a one on one between Mata and Hart (before which Mata was offside), and another free header for Chris Smalling. Unless you are suggesting that Joe Hart should start leaving his goal to mark the players left to roam free by City's defense, you can't pin this one on Hart.
I'm not ready to say that City need to blow this team up and start over, so I'll save that for you all to do below, along with the rest of your takeaways.