I don’t believe that I have ever seen a striker as clinical as Manchester City’s Erling Haaland. The way he seems to find so much space in the box and then always delivers devastating finishes is unlike any other forward out there. He is a machine. He keeps on pumping out the goals. I was initially skeptical if he would be able to perform in the Premier League, but boy was I wrong. City have bought a monster. He is a force of nature.
Pep Guardiola’s side were outstanding before - but the addition of Haaland puts their threat level on another dimension. And Manchester United found that out the hard way in the derby at the Etihad Stadium. They were absolutely mauled. It was one-way traffic from the first minute – City dominated and ran away worthy winners.
Three successive hat-tricks
Haaland was phenomenal and United could do nothing to stop him as he bagged a hat-trick. Incredibly he became the first player to score three successive hat-tricks in home matches in the Premier League. And thanks to Phil Foden also netting three it was the first time two players have scored three each for City in the same Premier League match. In the end City got 6 but they could have had double that.
This was supposed to be a hotly contested affair but United did not lay a glove on their neighbours. There was no fight from them, no aggression. And on the rare occasions they got on the ball they were dreadful with it. Coach Erik Ten Hag had a big decision to make with his midfield which had been key to their recent improvement following a poor start to the season. But he made the wrong choices. Not starting Casemiro hurt United badly. He and Fred are regulars for Brazil, arguably the best international team in the world currently, but neither made the lineup and City took full advantage. Christian Eriksen – who made his 400th career league appearance – was again playing as a defensive centre midfielder which clearly is not his best position while Scott McTominay was again inconsistent. And with Bruno Fernandez making up the three, United’s weak midfield ran around like a bunch of headless chickens.
They arrived at the Etihad in a better place than they were seven or eight weeks ago but this massive defeat will hurt badly. It is a huge setback for Ten Hag as he tries to instill his plans, ideas and methods into the players.
City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish picked United apart and the home side stormed into a half time 4-0 lead. They were absolutely toying with United and cutting them open at will. Every time they got the ball they continued to catch United cold. Guardiola schooled Ten Hag. This was total domination. It was not a derby, it was Men vs Boys. In this kind of form the champions will easily defend their title.