Five notable things about the Manchester derby

CALL it the demolition derby, the silencing of the noisy neighbours, or the return of the red tide. Whatever it is, Manchester United's 4-2 thrashing of Manchester City showed that much has changed in the football-mad city over the past year.

Here are five things we learnt from Sunday's clash:

1. Winning 11

David Moyes is well and truly a past nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams as the lucrative return to Champions League football beckons for the Red Devils. Four points clear of City in the battle for third place and automatic qualification, Louis van Gaal - whether by fluke or tactical brilliance - has unearthed a balanced line-up even with players in unfamiliar roles.

Marouane Fellaini has shone as a roving forward, while Juan Mata continues to blossom with his vision and incisive passes on the right wing. Daley Blind, primarily a holding midfielder for the Netherlands, has made the left-back spot his own in the absence of youngster Luke Shaw.

Six straight league wins, coming at the "squeaky bum" time of the campaign, harken back to the Alex Ferguson era where United teams peaked when it mattered.

2. Young back to old form

It takes something, or rather, someone, special to keep Angel di Maria out of the starting XI. And that is how Ashley Young must be feeling at the moment. Dropped by England and on the verge of being transfer-listed a few months ago, the nippy winger was the star performer during a breathless first half, scrambling in the opener before setting up Fellaini with a sumptuous cross from the edge of the box.

Slowly but surely, the man who once starred for Aston Villa is re-discovering top form with more consistent minutes on the pitch and the backing of his manager.

3. Pressure on Pellegrini

Less than a year after delivering the Premier League trophy, City's sophomore manager Manuel Pellegrini finds himself a near-certainty to be holding unemployment papers this summer.

His team's run of four league wins in 12 games - during a period in which they also went out of two cup competitions - surely constitutes a crisis for a club with their expectations and financial power.

Quite simply, the Chilean has failed to rejuvenate an ageing outfit, also let down by poor performances from captain Vincent Kompany and midfield linchpin Yaya Toure.

City have already lost five league games this year, one more than they did in the whole of 2014. Cue the "Pep Guardiola to Etihad Stadium" rumours.

4. SOS centre-backs

United may have dominated Sunday's fixture but it could have been so different if City had capitalised on their flying start. The central defensive pairing of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were repeatedly caught out by diagonal balls played into space. A more enthusiastic Sergio Aguero would have notched a brace against a backline that is tenuously held together by holding midfielder Michael Carrick.

If the Red Devils are serious about Europe next season, they have to fork out for top defensive talents like Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels and Athletic Bilbao sensation Aymeric Laporte.

5. No friends for Kompany

City's erratic form is mirrored by the inexplicable struggles of their talismanic skipper. Belgian Kompany was lucky not to get sent off in the first half for a rash tackle that left Blind in a heap on the Old Trafford turf.

Whether down to injury or a rumoured falling out with Pellegrini, the 29-year-old looks a shell of the imperious defender who marshalled the Sky Blues to league success in two of the last three seasons. Big-money signing Eliaquim Mangala has also failed to settle in as Kompany's expected defensive partner, adding to the intrigue surrounding a player who single-handedly helped City keep clean sheets at times last season.

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