Curious, but it is true. Man City pushed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer towards the Manchester United exit door, just like they did with Jose Mourinho and David Moyes
Alas, Ole is no longer at the wheel. There’ll be a caretaker driver, then an interim drive and then a full-time driver.
But before you let the inner workings of Manchester United baffle you too much, bask in the knowledge that Manchester City have once again played a key part in the downfall of one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successors.
Sure, the Blues didn’t land the final blow, having shown the sort of restraint at Old Trafford two weeks ago that escaped Watford entirely on Saturday, when Claudio Ranieri’s team streamed giddily forward to score twice in injury time and romp to a 4-1 win over the beleaguered Reds.
Nevertheless, once you suffer a particularly chastening derby day defeat, things are only ever heading one way – as the examples below demonstrate.
March 25, 2014: Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City
Any notion of the United of David Moyes playing like Fergie’s boys had long since left the building by the time title-chasing City made the short trip across town for a re-arranged midweek derby.
In a sequence that was echoed in the final days of Solskjaer, United had been resoundingly beaten 3-0 by Liverpool on home turf nine days earlier and there was little doubt over the outcome after Manuel Pellegrini’s side led inside the first minute through Edin Dzeko.
The Bosnian striker volleyed a second after half-time and Yaya Toure lashed in a late third to ensure the scoreline at least partly reflected City’s total dominance.
What happened next
There were two last defiant flickers of life, as United racked up four-goal wins against Aston Villa and Newcastle United in their next two league fixtures.
But, not for the last time, Pep Guardiola proved to be a nuisance as his Bayern Munich dumped the Reds out of the Champions League. By the time United lost at Moyes’ former club Everton on April 20, they had no mathematical chance of returning to Europe’s top competition.
The reality of lost revenue brought out a seldom seen ruthless streak in the Glazer regime and Moyes was gone within a month of his derby humbling.
November 11, 2018: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United
Jose Mourinho might have classed United’s second-place finish in 2017-18 among his finest coaching achievements but mere simpletons everywhere just noticed City had put together a record 100-point haul, broken a stack of records and finished 19 points clear.
There was already a nine-point gap by the time the Reds headed to the Etihad Stadium in November 2018 and a rampant start from City sought to banish them from the title picture.
David Silva’s 12th-minute opener was all Guardiola’s side had to show for a dominant opening 45 minutes, but Sergio Aguero crashed a trademark finish high past David de Gea to give them breathing space.
Anthony Martial pulled one back from the penalty spot against the run of play, but Ilkay Gundogan crowned a dazzling 44-pass move to put a bedraggled United out of their misery.
What happened next
Mourinho lasted a little longer than Moyes did after his last derby loss, but it was a slow and painful denouement.
A 0-0 draw at home to Crystal Palace followed the November international break and Young Boys were set to leave Old Trafford with the same scoreline until a last-gasp Marouane Fellaini winner.
That was Mourinho’s penultimate United win, as draws with Southampton and Arsenal followed. Valencia then beat them in the Champions League and Liverpool ransacked them 3-1 at Anfield to end Jose’s lengthy residence at the Lowry Hotel.
November 6, 2021: Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City
Although the scoreline was a touch more moderate, City’s win to leave Solskjaer on the brink had plenty in common with the wounds they inflicted upon Moyes and Mourinho.
In terms of being completely and comprehensively outplayed on home turf, it somehow outstripped the 2014 game. If Phil Foden had scored instead of clipping the outside of the post late on, City’s display would have had the definitive final flourish Toure supplied.
Bernardo Silva’s goal concluded a 27-pass move where every player touched the ball, in an echo of Gundogan’s effort. To borrow the famous commentary line from the 6-1, this was United not just beaten… humiliated.
What happened next
Unless you spent the weekend under a rock, you know all about what went on at Vicarage Road – slapstick defending, a Harry Maguire red card and all the other good stuff.
But perhaps most significant is what happened in the two weeks beforehand. Or, more accurately, what didn’t as United left Solkajaer in situ despite City putting the writing on the wall as emphatically as they did on everyone’s favourite Carlos Tevez poster.