'Toure didn't want to mark Fellaini' – Young taunts Manchester City star

The Ivory Coast international struggled during the Premier League champions’ defeat at Old Trafford, though the England winger admits his team-mate can be unplayable


Manchester United winger Ashley Young has hit out at Yaya Toure, claiming the Manchester City man failed to do his job in marking Marouane Fellaini during Sunday’s derby.

Young and Fellaini combined as the Belgian nodded in United’s second goal during their 4-2 win at Old Trafford, with the England international also getting on the scoresheet himself.

And though the former Aston Villa man concedes Fellaini is difficult to play against, he felt Toure did not do enough to challenge the ex-Everton midfielder.

“Felli has been brilliant,” Young told MUTV. “Everyone will say the same. Since he’s come into the team, he’s been fantastic.

“I’ve said before that very few people can handle him. On his day, he’s unplayable. I don’t think Yaya Toure wanted to be tracking back, he wanted to be at the other end of the pitch but he had that job to do on Felli.

“When Felli is in the box and you can find him, you’ve definitely got a chance of scoring.

“I saw him at the back post and hoped he’d get on the end of it and score and, thankfully, he managed to do that.”

Where the Manchester derby will be won and lost

From the resurgent Ander Herrera to the physical Marouane Fellaini, manager Louis van Gaal has plenty of in-form weapons to choose from at a time when City’s stars are struggling


GOALANALYSIS    By Ewan Roberts     Follow on Twitter

Rarely in recent times will Manchester United have felt so well placed to defeat rivals City. The balance of power in this storied rivalry had shifted very much towards the blue half of Manchester since Sheikh Mansour purchased the club, winning six of the last seven league meetings and scoring 19 goals in the process. But, under Louis van Gaal, the Red Devils have started to rediscover their old swagger.

Only Arsenal can claim to be in better form than United at present, with the club all-but assured of a return to the Champions League having leapfrogged City in the process. Now it is Manuel Pellegrini, not Van Gaal, who is under pressure, and the two sides’ contrasting fortunes should make for an intriguing clash at Old Trafford. But where will Sunday’s contest be won and lost?…


OUT-OF-FORM AGUERO

The fading of Manchester City’s title hopes has exactly coincided with the loss of form of Sergio Aguero. At the start of December, just before injuring knee ligaments, he had 14 league goals in as many games.

Since returning to the side in January, the Argentine has netted just once from open play (and twice more from the penalty spot – those goals coming against Stoke and Newcastle), with City winning a mere 36 per cent of matches in which he has featured since the turn of the year.

Of course, the entire team – not just Aguero – has struggled to maintain their title challenge in the second half of the season, with them having lost their balance and fluidity in attack and failing to adequately supply their diminutive frontman. He was presented with 17 big chances in the first four months of the season, but just five since.

Against Crystal Palace, meanwhile, he often found himself as the deepest of City’s attackers, collecting the ball from the centre-backs at times while Yaya Toure bombed forward. That the Ivorian had three times as many shots at Selhurst Park says much about the dysfunctional attack. Yet, Aguero’s pace – assuming City can supply him early – could be a real worry for an unconvincing United back-line and offers the Argentine a shot at reviving his goalscoring form.


THE MIDFIELD BATTLE: HERRERA v YAYA


Manchester United might be breathing down Chelsea’s necks now had Ander Herrera been trusted more at the start of the season. The summer signing from Athletic was perceived to be the main culprit for a lack of balance in Van Gaal’s side and was dropped from the starting XI, but has returned to the team to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most rounded midfielders.

Herrera has started the last six matches – his longest run in the side – with United winning all but one (an away trip to Swansea that the Spaniard netted in). He has married together tenacity – only Antonio Valencia has won more tackles among the squad – with the precision in possession that Van Gaal demands, finding his target with 96% of his 98 passes against Aston Villa.

Alongside Michael Carrick and Juan Mata, United have finally found their midfield rhythm; the trio are calm and cultured on the ball, creating triangles at every opportunity and starving opponents of possession. Sunday’s match with City will be their biggest test yet, though, pitting them against the only Premier League side to have averaged more possession or a higher pass completion rate.

Just as Herrera has hit top form, meanwhile, Yaya Toure has tailed off, and their duel could be crucial. The Ivorian often leaves Fernandinho isolated, neglecting defensive duties and amplifying the lack of a genuine ball-winner. If Herrera can offer Carrick the defensive support Toure shuns, while also bombing forward and overloading City’s lone midfield anchor, then the home side could dominate the midfield.


THE AERIAL BATTLE


The full extent of Vincent Kompany’s regression was evident on Monday night as the City skipper was bullied by Glenn Murray. The Crystal Palace striker is certainly in form right now – to such an extent that he has the best strike rate in the Premier League – but few would have expected a player who was on loan at Reading just a few months ago to provide such a test for Kompany & Co.

Things will not get any easier, either, with Marouane Fellaini primed to repeat Murray’s trick. Both players are so-called “handfuls”, teaming their awkward strength with real power in the air. At Selhurst Park, Murray won 10 of his 15 aerial duels, beating Kompany with alarming ease, and Fellaini is just as effective in the air as the veteran Palace frontman.

United will have no qualms about going long either – only QPR have averaged more long balls (80 per game) than United (79) this season – and the tactic of Fellaini pulling onto full-backs has proven successful, particularly against Tottenham. For that reason, Bacary Sagna may remain at right-back given that he is, statistically, City’s strongest player in the air (winning 4.7 aerial duels per game compared to just 2.0 for Pablo Zabaleta).

Though United may not be able to exploit full-backs by launching the ball to Fellaini, City are still vulnerable through the middle. They have no midfielder capable of helping out the centre-backs by dropping off and picking up Fellaini – at least, not since Javi Garcia was sold, who averaged 3.8 successful aerial duels per 90 minutes last season, a tally bettered only by Edin Dzeko.


WINGMAN WORRIES

Not many people would guess that Jesus Navas has registered the most assists (7) of any Manchester City player this season – though that may not be such a good thing for the soon-to-be-dethroned champions. The Spanish winger is a curious player, creating chances only less regularly than David Silva yet so often frustrating and inconsistent, sending lame, trickling crosses into the box that rarely beat the first man.

That Navas ranks so highly among City’s creators says much about how poor the side have been – and how far adrift the club’s playmakers are compared to the rest of the division (and, namely, Cesc Fabregas, who has nine more assists than Navas).

Nevertheless, the former Sevilla wingman presents Pellegrini with something of a dilemma. On the one hand, he has been a rare bright spark, bringing speed and directness to a side that can be laborious on the ball. On the other, he has struggled to connect with Aguero and offers little of the defensive traits that will be needed to thwart United’s solid and adventurous left flank.

Most of City’s attacks in recent matches have come down their right flank (topping out at 52% against Liverpool, a match they lost) and Pellegrini may be tempted by either the pace of Navas or the cunning of Samir Nasri down the right. But two such attack-minded players could leave City vulnerable to the burgeoning understanding developing between Ashley Young and Daley Blind, with James Milner more capable of locking down that particular threat.

Yaya Toure set for crunch Manchester City talks

The 32-year-old’s representatives will meet with club officials to discuss the player’s future, with Inter maintaining a firm interest in the Ivory Coast international


GOALEXCLUSIVE    By Scott Loney 


Yaya Toure is set for crunch talks over his Manchester City future, Goal can reveal.

Toure’s advisers have pencilled in plans to speak to City CEO Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain, with question marks surrounding his future.

Toure, who has two years remaining on his current contract, is keen to stay at the Etihad Stadium and would be open to signing a new deal, with a view to taking up an ambassadorial role in the future.

But at 32-years-old and with a basic wage of £200,000-a-week before bonuses, the midfielder is realistic regarding the prospect of an extension.

Inter remain the club most interested in signing Toure, with former City boss Roberto Mancini publicly declaring his admiration for the Ivory Coast international a number of times since moving to San Siro earlier this season.

Toure is understood to be open to a move to Inter and is willing to drop his wage demands to around £150,000-a-week.

Both City and Toure’s camp are hopeful of an amicable parting of the ways should the midfielder leave the club this summer.

Toure voiced his disappointment with City officials last summer after they failed to acknowledge his birthday and he was denied time off to be by the bedside of his brother, Ibrahim, who died of cancer in 2014.

The club is mindful of the incident and does not want to tarnish the reputation of a player who has helped them to win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup since moving to the Etihad in 2010.

Toure has featured 31 times in all competitions for City this season, scoring nine goals, and was a part of the Ivory Coast side that won the Africa Cup of Nations during the winter.

Zanetti: Inter want world-class Yaya Toure

The club’s vice-president says they will do everything they can to lure the 31-year-old from Manchester City

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti says the club will do everything in their power to lure Yaya Toure to San Siro next season.

The Ivory Coast international has been frequently linked with a move to the club, which would seem him reunited with former Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini.

Earlier this week Inter’s general director Marco Fassone said the player was too expensive for the club, but Zanetti remains hopeful of striking  deal for the 31-year-old.

“He’s a world-class player,” Zanetti told Sky Sport Italia.

“We are talking about a great champion who Mancini knows well.

“We must respect certain parameters, but we will do everything possible to make him happy within those parameters.”

Inter have endured a miserable season and are in serious danger of missing out on European football next season after their winless run stretched to five games on Saturday.

Supporters showed their frustrations as the club slumped to  a 1-1 draw at home to rock-bottom Parma on Saturday.

Fredy Guarin scored the opener, before Andi Lila equalised just before half-time and salvaged a point for the visitors.

After the game, Guarin said: “The fans are right. We have to take the criticism on board and get on with our jobs so that we can come through this bad spell.

“We must recognise that we’re having a tough time of things and that we’re responsible for it.

“[Getting into Europe is] a target for us but first and foremost we have to concentrate on playing as a team and winning every game.”

Inter sit ninth in Serie A, nine points adrift of fifth-placed Napoli who occupy Italy’s final Europa League place.

Mancini: Inter want quality players like Dybala

The San Siro boss is keen to strengthen his squad and refused to deny interest in the Argentine, but rejected reports that Yaya Toure is set to sign

Roberto Mancini has hinted that Inter have entered the race to sign in-demand Palermo striker Paulo Dybala.

The Argentine has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Juventus in recent weeks, after scoring 12 goals in 27 Serie A appearances this term.

Now, having previously spoken of the need to bolster his Inter squad at the end of the season, Mancini has expressed his interest in Dybala’s potential.

“Dybala is a quality player, he’s young and I think he’ll become a top-class forward,” the Nerazzurri coach told reporters on Friday.

“Inter are a big club and naturally we’re looking for quality players so we can start winning again.”

However, Mancini dismissed reports that Inter are close to agreeing a deal with Manchester City for star midfielder Yaya Toure.

The Ivory Coast international was a part of Mancini’s 2011-12 Premier League-winning side at the Etihad and has been heavily linked with a reunion with his former boss at San Siro this summer. 

“There are no talks about Toure,” the former Italy international stated.

“I’ve always said he’s a Manchester City player but we’d be delighted if we could sign him for Inter.”

Inter, who turned to Mancini after parting company with Walter Mazzarri in November, are without a win in their last four league outings and face an uphill battle to gain a European spot this season.

They sit 10th ahead of Saturday’s visit of basement boys Parma, 10 points behind fifth-place Napoli and Italy’s final Europa League slot, but Mancini is remaining upbeat.

“We have to do our best over our last 10 matches. It’s not easy to take over mid-season but you can only get results with time and through hard work,” the Inter boss added.

“We have to be patient but I really believe we’ll take Inter back to the top. Obviously we still have to improve but we’ve become a team and we take the game to our opponents. 

“We’ve all got something to prove between now and the end of the season and it’s important to get results in the last stage of the campaign.

“If we play like we did [in a 1-0 defeat to Sampdoria prior to the international break], we’ll definitely win a lot of matches. Our aim is to qualify for Europe and we still have a chance of doing so.”