Football Features

“King Kevin De Bruyne” is coming back for his crown as he leads Manchester City’s 4-1 massacre of Manchester United

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:47, 6 March 2022 | Updated: 21:08, 24 November 2022

Kevin De Bruyne was the star of the show as Manchester City destroyed Manchester United to extend their lead atop the Premier League table.

City are once again six points ahead of Liverpool in England’s top flight, and they retain control of the destiny of the Premier League title even though they have played a game more than their rival.

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The match itself was a game of two halves, with the first-half seeing the Red Devils match-up to the Premier League champions and offering a case for not just winning the match but advancing as a team post-Cristiano Ronaldo.

The second-half, however, showed just how much work there is to be done as Manchester City dominated from start to finish without ever getting out of first-gear, which is almost more insulting than a team playing really well and smashing you.

“City didn’t have to be at their best, I thought City had another couple of gears to go. They just toyed with them,” said Roy Keane post-match.

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It was in that more even first-half where Kevin De Bruyne effectively decided the fate of the match with two superb finishes to give City the lead either side of United’s excellent equaliser from Jadon Sancho.

The opening goal was a delightful, slotted finish to cap off a great team move from City, and the second a no nonsense effort to slam home a loose ball in the United box. And those goals saw him voted man of the match by sponsors and commentators alike.

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But De Bruyne was (typically) more than just goals, although it’s worth pointing out that he literally had a higher xG than the entire United side in the first-half (0.77 vs 0.58) and is the first City player to score twice in a Premier League Manchester Derby since Sergio Aguero did it in 2015. The Belgian was astoundingly dominant.

While De Bruyne was on the pitch he had 6 shots, 4 on target and 5 chances created. That’s an impressive enough stat-line by itself but when you consider that all of those metrics are higher than United’s corresponding figure as a team? It becomes incredible. 2 goals and one can’t overlook his excellent corner that Riyad Mahrez volleyed it home to make it 3-1.

The elegance with which De Bruyne plays, combined with the athletic skill he possesses, makes him an impossible force to contain. He can beat you with a furious run and thunderous shot, but also cut you to pieces with an inch-perfect pass. Manchester United found this out to their cost today, and even in a half that saw them match City, the brilliant Belgian stood tall, made the difference, and won the game.

De Bruyne is reigning PFA Player’s Player of the Year, having won the last two editions in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Can he do a threepeat? No one has ever managed to do it in the award’s history.

In fact, De Bruyne is one of just three men to even retain the award. A threepeat seems impossible, but if the Belgian keeps playing like he did against Man Utd, guiding Manchester City to retain their Premier League title, you wouldn’t doubt him, would you?

And if that happens, after all the (justifiable) hype around Bruno Fernandes and Mohamed Salah, maybe people will finally get back to acknowledging that King Kevin De Bruyne is not just the best player in the Premier League, but one of the very best in the world.

“That man Kevin De Bruyne, he’s just on a different level,” said Micah Richards post-match. And he was absolutely right.