An intriguing strand of Louis van Gaal’s opening Manchester United campaign is how the manager is rejuvenating Old Trafford careers. At the head of this list is Ashley Young, who entered this 169th derby as a footballer reborn and who was keeping £59.7m of prime football talent on the bench.
When Ángel Di María signed last summer to herald United’s new galáctico era he hardly expected that come spring he would be demoted by a winger who had lost his fizz and become a peripheral figure.
Yet as this match passed the hour mark, United still held a 2-1 lead courtesy of the Young show during the opening stages.
The Argentinian may have to look elsewhere for his route back into the team after a Young contribution that featured his equaliser, the creation of the Marouane Fellaini goal that gave United the lead, and the ball to Smalling that confirmed a 4-2 victory.
In the 13 minutes between Young’s goal and the Belgian’s header, the winger turned the contest on its head. Until then Manchester City were the ascendant force, punching holes in a strangely overawed United at will.