Flawed Rooney has one perfect moment as City come up short

Manchester United 2 Manchester City 1

Old Trafford

The old Trafford press box was contemplating the prospect of a restive Javier Hernandez soon unseating Wayne Rooney in the Manchester United starting line-up when said No 10 began shuffling back into position for what he says was his first successfully executed bicycle-kick since he wore the uniform of De La Salle School in Croxteth.

One £26m signing (David Silva) plays like a god and misses the 153rd Manchester derby's most elementary chance. Another £26m signing (Rooney) plays like rather less than a mortal and ends up radiating brilliance. Bloody hell, as a United manager once said of football. Can Saturday tell us anything about the balance of power in Manchester football?

It can. Though the afternoon comfortably deconstructed that simplistic notion of City as the malign, unambitious arrivistes and United as football's free spirits – Silva and Yaya Touré showed the exquisite skills that money can buy; City were creative and marginally the better side – it did reveal that world of difference between two strikeforces.

United's remains full of imperfections, Rooney's overall performance reflective of his generally miserable season while Dimitar Berbatov's track record against strong sides remains so poor that Sir Alex Ferguson started without him, just as he has in 22 of United's 43 games against "the big six" since the Bulgarian was signed. While Ferguson was left acknowledging Rooney and Berbatov's faults – "With the abilities those two have got, they should also be dictating games away from home" – he boasts a striker for every occasion. Berbatov's 19 goals have barrelled away the poor sides at Old Trafford, Hernandez's have bought all three of United's away wins, Michael Owen is lurking hungrily in the wings for the run-in and Rooney... is Rooney.

For City, it is a very different story. Roberto Mancini started without Edin Dzeko on Saturday because the Bosnian is taking the time which new overseas strikers often need to make the pace of Premier League football. Will it be four weeks? Six? Mancini is not sure how long, though it was not preposterous to suggest that City must wait until next season to see the best of him. "No," Mancini responded to that. "We have three months left of the season and we will find the solution for him."

This wait would be more palatable if Mario Balotelli – the striker who Mancini went out on a limb to buy – offered fewer uncertainties. Was the decision to send to him for treatment in the freezing environment of Vermont a sign that he is incapable of the self-discipline required to recuperate from the knee injury which has troubled him all season? Has he actually recovered? How much patience does Mancini still have with him? The manager's comments on the topic on Friday suggested it is wearing thin. "I'm not satisfied because it is four weeks Mario is off," Mancini said. "He has a problem with his knee but I hope in the last three months he can play always."

This was a frustration borne of need. Mancini cannot always depend on Carlos Tevez – still the City player with most goals, shots on and off target, free-kicks won, offsides and fouls conceded – and it was for days like Saturday that Balotelli was hired to help. Instead, for the hour's play before Dzeko joined the subdued Tevez, City looked like a side without a striker.

Mancini's problems may get worse before they get better. Don't bank on Balotelli, whose friends and family have worked tirelessly to help him settle, being hungry for a second season in Manchester. There is little more guarantee that Tevez will want to stay put either – the lingering suspicion being that the polite though firm word City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak had with him at Eastlands on 21 December – you're staying whether you like it or not, was the bottom line – may have preserved him until the summer, though no longer. If Balotelli and Tevez both leave, Mancini will have to start again.

The summer offers far greater certainties for Ferguson, who will go back to Aston Villa in pursuit of the £15m Ashley Young, but who will want Rooney and Berbatov to heed his criticism of their away form, with consecutive fixtures at Anfield and Stamford Bridge three weeks away.

Mancini admitted only to a mental deficit between Manchester's two teams. "Some [United] players have this mentality that they think, 'Now I can score a goal and change the game'," he said."I think we need to win one cup, one title, because if we do that then we can change the whole mentality of the team."

He might be right: Saturday offered enough evidence. But he is the Manchester manager with thoughts to keep him awake in the small hours.

Scorers: Manchester United Nani 41, Rooney 78 Manchester City Silva 65.

Subs: Man Utd Berbatov 6 (Anderson, 67), Carrick 6 (Scholes, 79) Unused Lindegaard (gk), Brown, Rafael, Owen, Hernandez. Man City Wright-Phillips 7 (Kolarov, 53), Dzeko 5 (Milner, 60) Unused Given (gk), Boateng, K Toure, Vieira, Jo.

Booked: Man Utd Giggs, Scholes Man City Kompany, Milner.

Man of the match Kompany

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands)

Att 75,322.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little