Erik ten Hag changed what he wanted from Manchester United against Man City – Richard Fay

For large parts of the derby encounter, United were just as good as their noisy neighbours, though their best football once again came by adopting the role of the underdog against top opposition.

It is entirely understandable why Ten Hag played to the strengths of his side in order to stand a chance of getting anything from the match, yet it also acted as a timely reminder of just how much more work there is to be done until his vision is complete.

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Ahead of the game, the United manager had himself eased suggestions of a title challenge from his side, and after weeks of genuine progress, this was the latest reminder that one is possible but that work still needs to be done.

Fred impressed with his combative role in midfield and proved a worthy thorn in the side of Kevin de Bruyne, though it came at the cost of creativity, with Casemiro isolated as a deep-lying creative outlet.

United&aposs case also wasn&apost helped by a rare off-day from the usually reliable Christian Eriksen, who suffered from being pushed higher up the pitch as part of the midfield reshuffle, with Bruno Fernandes also less influential when played in an attacking role.

Rather than looking to dictate the game with a calm and composed approach, United instead resorted to an erratic and often frantic approach that saw them look to quickly transition from defence to attack, which stretched the game open and resorted to plenty of misplaced passes.

This all stemmed from the makeshift midfield that started the game. In the recent run of wins, the midfield has been the beating heart of their side, but against City it felt like life support, solely existing to cater for the counter-attacking approach that finally came good.

Up front, Anthony Martial looked well off the pace, with Marcus Rashford largely operating as a one-man show tasked with the pressure of stealing all the limelight.

But with such a tactical approach, there is always a chance on the break, and when United made the decision to take Eriksen off in favour of the electric Alejandro Garnacho, the pendulum swung in their favour.

With his added pace, the attack now had a balance, and City found it much harder to find a way of nullifying the equal threat that came from either flank.

United&aposs equalising goal came down the right as Casemiro burst through and expertly cut open the City defence, while Rashford&aposs winner was courtesy of relentless running from Garnacho on the opposite flank.

In the end, it made for classic United in recent years; a team with incredible individual quality, but one that still relies on moments and short spells to do damage to their opposition, rather than winning through complete domination.

Ten Hag still has work to do before he has United playing the way he wants, but the back-up plan isn&apost half bad either.