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Lee Dixon's tactical view

Darren Fletcher (centre) scored for Man utd
Fletcher took advantage of slack City defending to score with two headers

MOTD2 pundit Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Match of the Day 2 pundit

It was an absolutely fantastic Manchester derby - one of the best I have seen.

Any neutral would have hoped for the attacking players to be on top and for the defences to have a day off, which is pretty much what happened.

It was a great game and it was played out in an amazing atmosphere, there was drama, goals, and a lot of added time!

But I have to say that both teams were really poor defensively.

Mistakes were happening all over the pitch - and for almost all the goals there were individual errors.

For example, United keeper Ben Foster was at fault for City's first equaliser but questions will also be asked as to whether Rio Ferdinand did enough to 'block' Carlos Tevez and I'd have to say no.

Ferdinand obviously had a call from the keeper but I feel the England centre-back could have done more.

It wasn't just down to the goalkeeper, it was a collective mistake.

Craig Bellamy (right) scores Man City's third goal
Bellamy squeezed in his second goal from the tightest of angles

Sometimes a goalkeeping change can alter the way you think as a defender. You might modify your position and try to be a bit more protective. And you are looking behind you a little bit more and perhaps that leads to indecision.

Any doubt or hesitation can spread among the back line, and that includes the goalkeeper.

The least amount of change that you have there, the better it is. With a consistent line-up you have more understanding - you know what the guy next to you is going to do, you have seem him do it so many times.

And that is the problem that City are having right now as they try to get a new backline to gel.

They were woeful in defence at times - particularly from set-pieces - and they were punished by four United goals.

Micah Richards and Wayne Bridge have been around for a while now, but the two centre-backs - Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott - have not played much together.

They are all still trying to develop an understanding with each other.

There were times when all four of them were out of position and United capitalised on that.

In the first minute, the ball went out of play and the two City centre-backs and the right-back were arguing about who to pick up in the box.

606: DEBATE
1 UNITED

Suddenly United had two against one on the wing, they delivered the ball into the box and scored.

As a player you are looking at your team-mates to be able to take command of their own situation so that you only have to worry about yourself.

Players want to feel safe, and if they don't it affects their game. I think that is what might have happened on Sunday because there were mistakes everywhere.

And City were not the only guilty party.

Cragi Bellamy's first goal was brilliant. But he's a right-footed player and he was on the left. United's defenders should have showed him down the line and kept him off his right foot. Yes, it was an unstoppable shot, but he could have been stopped further up the pitch.

And for Bellamy's second goal, again he did wonderfully well but without a shadow of a doubt I think Foster could have done better. If the keeper stays where he is, he is not going to get beaten.

Of course it was Rio's mistake in the first place, but after Bellamy was driven a little wide he should never really have scored from that angle.

Away from the problematic defences, the big difference between the teams was Ryan Giggs.

Ryan Giggs (right) holds off Micah Richards
Giggs was in inspired form once again for United

He has always been a top-drawer player and a top-drawer professional. He trains hard and you only have to look at his physique for proof of that. He is also hugely talented and that has meant he has been able to adapt his game.

At the moment he is at the stage where, mentally, the game is so easy for him.

He still can show flashes of the Giggs of old - on Sunday there were a couple of runs and some great crossing.

But now he plays a more majestic role - able to make time for himself on the ball and he knows when to give it or when to hold on to it.

He is so tactically astute, he knows how to find space and when to stay in that space - even if the ball doesn't come straight away.

And for Michael Owen's winning goal there are only a few players on that pitch that would have seen the pass was on and then been able to execute it the way Giggs did.

I think he is the best player to have played in the Premier League.

There is no-one who has gone on as long as he has or won as much as he has.

His performance was excellent and something United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted with.

Ferguson, though, will know that he needs to address his side's defensive frailties if they are to successfully defend their title.

Lee Dixon was talking to BBC Sport's Ian Hughes.



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see also
Birmingham 0-1 Aston Villa
13 Sep 09 |  Premier League
Liverpool 4-0 Burnley
12 Sep 09 |  Premier League
Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Wolves
12 Sep 09 |  Premier League
Johnson completes Birmingham move
25 Jun 09 |  Birmingham
Tainio in Birmingham loan switch
01 Sep 09 |  Birmingham
Lee Dixon's tactical view
31 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Lee Dixon's tactical view
17 Aug 09 |  Premier League


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