Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was quoted in mid-week saying: “There is no winter break and I think that is the most evil thing of this culture. It is not good for English football.” This was demonstrated in one of the biggest games of the Premier League; failing to live up to the hype and expectations surrounding the match beforehand. The Manchester Derby has in recent years become a box-office event, with both title-contenders drawing millions of views week-in, week-out.
Previous encounters have included the famous 4-3 victory in 2009 thanks to a Michael Owen strike in stoppage time for Ferguson’s United side. And of course who could forget the Wayne Rooney wonder-goal in the 2-1 victory back in 2011.[video:https://youtu.be/gKLC7ITp3T0]
The two sides have millions of followers across the globe and the deepest, most expensive squads in English football. Both clubs happened to have played Champions League football in mid-week. Manchester City hosted Sevilla and United made the trip to Moscow has both sides now have a full set of fixtures with no breaks scheduled until the end of the season.
Whether has other countries have a pause from the action around Christmas time, the Premier League fixtures increase in numbers as demand for football has increased to extraordinary levels. This clearly hindered the derby as young players like Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Anthony Martial looked tired and failed to provide that spark they have during other games.
Other factors may have affected the performances of the star players; no star player, no experienced Derby members of the squad or even a lack of forward presence in the tie.
The best chance of the game came when Jesse Lingard clipped the bar as he flicked the ball over the head of England international Joe Hart. Even then, the young English winger came on as a substitute as the superstars failed to live up to the limelight.
Manchester United failed to have a single attempt on goal during the first half; it wasn’t until substitutions helped to provide that extra spark that the club looked a menacing side. The same goes for Manchester City as Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling were substituted for failing to have a real affect on the Derby.
Unfortunately for the fans of the Premier League, the game failed to provide the anticipated spark. Van Gaal and many managers alike will be hoping the Premier League reassesses their scheduling and takes consideration into other competitions and the affects it has on the quality of matches.