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Are City now in a position to overtake United?

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Phil McNulty | 14:10 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

When they walk out as Premier League leaders to face Manchester United on Sunday, Manchester City will notice that Old Trafford has undergone one small, but highly significant, alteration since their last visit.

High and hanging from the Stretford End, a long-running painful taunt has been removed, a small sign - literally - of the reluctant acceptance that City is now a club to be taken seriously on both sides of Manchester.

The famous ticking clock banner, that had reached 35 years going on 36, was removed within days of City's FA Cup victory against Stoke City in May and replaced with a more United-friendly "19 times" flag in honour of their record-breaking tally of domestic titles.

Now Roberto Mancini's City have the opportunity to prove they have loosened another of the shackles placed around them by United in the years of supremacy under Sir Alex Ferguson.

But have the so-called "noisy neighbours" acquired the strength to finally overtake United?

City have closed the gap on United at the speed with which the men from Abu Dhabi have signed vast cheques for stellar performers such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva.

Sunday's derby will not provide a definitive answer, but may deliver a measure of how near Manchester is to any sort of shift in the balance of power.

United's home form has been as formidable as ever with Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea all beaten - but there has been a hint of defensive vulnerability that will encourage City's strike force, which also includes Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri. 

Wayne Rooney's sensational overhead kick last season settled the derby at Old Trafford. Photo: Getty

For City, the problem may be more psychological. Have they built up enough reserves of confidence and courage to believe this is the time to go to Old Trafford and make a statement about their aspirations and ambitions?

Former Man City and England defender Andy Hinchcliffe wants his old club's manager Mancini to take the bold approach and turn his potent attacking weapons on United.

He told BBC Sport: "This is a statement game, of course, but City must not lose sight of the bigger picture and realise it is not just about beating United; it is about winning the title.

"Strangely, the fact City have a two-point lead going into a game like this presents them with a dilemma. Do you play for a draw or do they say, 'If we win this, we go five points ahead of United?"

And this is why so many arguments about this derby eventually focus on Mancini's tactical approach. Should he leave the handbrake on or take it off?

Hinchcliffe says: "It's not that City need to be all defensive or all gung-ho. United and City have a blend of players who can genuinely do both. That's why David Silva has impressed me so much this season.

"He works hard for the team but when he gets on the ball he can make things happen as a wonderful creative, technical player.

"I was worried when he first came whether he would be able to cope physically with playing in the Premier League, but now City have moved on and are getting more respect in the league he's getting more time on the ball and you don't see people just ploughing into him.

"Aguero is also fabulous player. He's key me, he's that Wayne Rooney player who can drop off and play as a central striker and can come into the hole and make things happen.

"It will be a big game for Mario Balotelli if he plays because he has got to learn to control his temper in a really high-octane game. If he does that, he can be very important."

The test for City is whether they can summon up the self-belief against a United side that has cast a shadow over them for so long, a club that still provides the benchmark for Premier League success. 

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister suggests that though City are made up of these many talented parts, they still lag behind United in the sort of stability that makes up the substance of title-winning sides.

He told me: "City are still trying to find a team ethic and sometimes the problems off the field, such as those with Carlos Tevez, have caused as many headlines as their performances on it, which is a shame for them because they have really come on this season.

"You have got to build a club from the bottom up and Manchester United have got that. Manchester City are trying to find that way forward but there are big egos there as well.

"United have got that unity in their squad and have players coming through the youth ranks who understand what Manchester United is all about. This is really important."

It has been a Stone Roses sort of a week in Manchester as one of its fabled bands reunites - and as the teams emerge to the familiar strains of "This is the One" at Old Trafford on Sunday, it may well be that the sentiments of the song apply more to City than United.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    No chance Phil,

    As shaky as Man Utd's defence has been they always come good in big games. Look how Bayern dismatled City with such ease. I'll go United 2-0.

  • Comment number 2.

    As much as Man City have gotten stronger i cant look past a win for the champ19ns on sunday! Our home form has been superior to everyone else's the last yr or so and i can't see Anything other than a victory tho it will be a bit tighter than usual. Man City will no doubt set up for a draw which will suite them as they would stay league leaders but class will shine through on sunday and i will say 2-1 or 3-1 to Man Utd!

  • Comment number 3.

    So one game means they will overtake us yet we have beatan them the last 3 times at OT and the gap was apparently closing? meake up your minds.

    I really dont get how one game justifies a jump by city over united, last season when they won the fa cup they had finally arrived, then came the cs and they were not their yet?

    I can almost garuntee 100% that the same rubbish will be spout before the game at eastlands

  • Comment number 4.

    Manchester city pose a huge threat this season. I think they are the only team who can challange man utd for the next decade. liverpool (im sad to say) arent goin to challenge for the PL anytime soon, chelsea need to invest, arsenal are arsenal so nothing will come off them and spurs, however good they may be cant compete with the top 3. the premier league is very boring. the red manchester team have dominated since the start of the PL and the 2 manchester teams will dominate english football for the foreseeable future. and noone else will get a sniff. Along with this new academy ruling the rest of us may aswell give up.

    As for sunday. can go either way, stunner or bore draw.

  • Comment number 5.

    City fans only early in the season, no need to get carried away, yes theyve played well but against much weaker opposition compared to the likes Man United have faced. IMO man united will win on sunday, just always get the feeling they have the edge on city but who knows only time will tell.

  • Comment number 6.

    I personally think Chelsea will be there or there abouts, they have too strong a squad to not be up there come May. Man United will no they are right up our pipe and won't go away, the only way i can see Chelsea really slipping maybe the big games against the top 3-4 !! It is a must win for the champ19ns tho cus if we lost this derby we would be 5 points behind city and we have to travel to everton next sat which is normally a banana skin!!

  • Comment number 7.

    @4

    You couldn't be more wrong.

    City are going to dominate for years to come, and I expect Chelsea to be runner's up this season with Utd and Liverpool battling it out for 3rd.

    Utd have ridden their luck for too long now and are going to get found out.

  • Comment number 8.

    6*

    Not a must win way to early in the season.

  • Comment number 9.

    @7

    Trust me id love to be proved wrong! There is nothing i hate more than manchester utd and id love to see liverpool battling for 3rd but do you really think anyone can touch the 2 manchester sides?? Man utd are a huge brand and everyone wants to play for them and city have all the money in the world!

  • Comment number 10.

    Most definitely not.......

  • Comment number 11.

    How i'd love to watch a team of greedy mercenaries get turned over, but that's unlikely to happen.
    City's central midfield options are much better than United's. Cleverley provided that creativity in midfield that United needed, but since his injury, their control in the middle and attacking play has been downhill. Similarly United have not had a proper steely defensive midfielder since Keane.
    I think United's focus of attack will be down the flanks and City's more central through Silva/Nasri.

    It could be one crazy attacking game or just a boring chess game.

  • Comment number 12.

    Every season in this fixture we get closer. The Fergie time winner, 3 minutes AFTER injury time. The Rooney shinner when we were the better team so I'm going for a 1-1 this time and a win at the Etihad.

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 14.

    @7

    I hope you are between the ages of 13 - 17 otherwise i feel sorry for you. I presume we've ridden our luck now for 2 decades?? Such a stupid comment.

    City will line up with De Jong, Barry & Milner. We'll play Park, FLetcher & Carrick. This will nullify the midfield making for a dull game in which the little Mexican will come on and nick it at the end.

  • Comment number 15.

    goodness me liverpool fans at it again, you will be lucky to finish fourth, the pl at the moment is in the process of seperating itself with a new big 3 united,city,chelsea then another not as big 3 tottenham,arsenal, liverpool coming after, face it your team has gone from deluded title challenge beliver to 4th will be a good season for us

  • Comment number 16.

    The balance of power shifting can only even be discussed if and when city get a title under their belt, until then its insulting to be even mentioned in the same breath after a few games

  • Comment number 17.

    Every season in this fixture we get closer

    ----------------------------

    again not quite true is? you beat us 4 years ago at OT but then proceeded to lose every time since then there, again can people stop trying to make one match will be the be all and end all

  • Comment number 18.

    Not a chance Phil. Mancini to adopt a damage limitation policy, Chelsea nearly got a reuslt at OT because they went there with the intention of giving them a game. Do you honestly see Mancini doing that?

    City will play right into United's hands as Mancini will line up more defensively as ever. Thye'll play for the goalless draw which you simply don;t get at Old Trafford, they won;t be able to keep a clean sheet over the 90 minutes

    Second half Rooney brace-you heard it hear first ;)

    Speaking of which, I do love how this has been forgiven and forgotten a dozen good performances later

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/9104392.stm

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    "chelsea need to invest,"

    Hmm I am not so sure about this...Have Chelsea not already heavily invested in the future of the squad?

    Mata, Lukaku, Ramires, Meireles, Luiz, Romelu, The young keeper loaned in Spain ontop of that you have Sturridge, Torres and the rest.

  • Comment number 21.

    whay are we discussing liverfool? they are a non entity

  • Comment number 22.

    Talking about titles in October seems pretty stupid. However, I think that this game will most probably end up a draw, with both teams opting for 5 across the middle. Hopefully though this is not the case and both go 4-4-2 and all out so we can see another end to end game like that against Chelsea. Excellent game to watch for all concerned.

  • Comment number 23.

    Man City 3rd place finishers this season, Overtake Manchester United? No chance.

    Even with a win they still wont have proved they have taken over united by beating them once.

  • Comment number 24.

    where is our beloved expert pundit, closet psychoanalyst and general great guy, soul_patch of Davy Villar?

  • Comment number 25.

    Alan Hansen - 'if city win they will go 5 points ahead and united may never see them again'.

    Behave please, look at the teams united have faced this season compared to city

    I expected nothing less from him though...

  • Comment number 26.

    7.
    At 15:25 21st Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:

    Utd have ridden their luck for too long now and are going to get found out.


    Oh my. That's the first time I've heard that over the last 15 years. It must be true.


    ______________________________________________________________________
    20.
    At 15:39 21st Oct 2011, Bear_with_it wrote:

    Mata, Lukaku, Ramires, Meireles, Luiz, Romelu, The young keeper loaned in Spain ontop of that you have Sturridge, Torres and the rest.


    Romelu AND Lukaku? I'm pretty sure you can only buy a player once. Or do you mean Romeu?

  • Comment number 27.

    @7 I'm sorry mate but you are wrong, they will challenge no doubt, but united will never go away and as for city having all the money and trying to buy the perm lge Man Utd have a load of young talented squad playing now and also coming through.. citys players are already throwing the toys outta the pram and it will continue as long as there are that amount of big egos in the dressing room. they can only select 11 players and the rest aka Balotelli Tevez Zabaleta..Johnston will start crying and cry transfer anytime they are left out of the squad. this is what city have brought on themselves and it will continue, Man U will steadily continue to bring through nurture and play young talent mixed with a few big experienced players. united4life !!

  • Comment number 28.

    @20 Chelsea have invested but I would not count Romeu just yet as he is basically on loan at the moment. With Barca able to sign him back at the end of the season if they want to. But they are still a few players short of having the depth required to win a title.

  • Comment number 29.

    Whats wrong with everyone? "Citeh" closing the gap on utd? Nah, only when they have won the same amount of silverware can they say that.

    Fair enough they have a really good strong team- which they have bought- and they are playing really well, but they will never be a better team as manchester united.

  • Comment number 30.

    It will come down to how each team recovers from midweek Champions League exploits, United have dealt with it and came out as champions for years while Chelsea have also been able to cope with this…Can City?

    There is no doubt City have the best players in the League when you see names like Silva, Augero and Nasri but it’s when you are 1-0 down in a cold December night at Stoke that wins you the title…can or will these players be able to do what Untied and Chelsea have done the past few years and win when not playing well?

    United I think will win at the weekend but in no way will it settle who will win the title as there will still only be a few points separating the top 3.

    I hope Mancini sets out like Chelsea did at OT a month ago, yes they got beat but could have easily have won. I fear however we will see a defensive minded City team which will take away what potential this game could have with 2 great attacking teams slugging it out.

  • Comment number 31.

    @20

    But they still need to replace anelka,drogba, lampard, alex, bosingwa, ferriera, malouda, kalou, meireles is 29... dont get me wrong they are the only team that can challange utd and city and there signings look quality especially mata, but they arent there yet

  • Comment number 32.

    but it’s when you are 1-0 down in a cold December night at Stoke that wins you the title


    always makes me smile

  • Comment number 33.

    Have to say United looked very lacklustre in Romania and last week in Anfield. And this being the best City side to visit Old Trafford in ages, United will have to ramp up their game several notches, especially in defence, to put the noisy neighbours in their place.

  • Comment number 34.

    @29

    Are you trying to tell us Utd haven't 'bought' their players?

    There's no difference between how City and Utd have 'bought' their squads, only perhaps City have had to cough up more to get ahead in talent.

    And Utd have been lucky in recent seasons, there is no doubt about it, they consistently seem to get the rub of the green, and that can't be said for any other club.

    Utd are more than the sum of their parts, and that's down to one man - SAF.

  • Comment number 35.

    @33


    Only Decent comment made by a man u fan on this blog

  • Comment number 36.

    I think this will be a tight game, not the free flowing attacking football a lot of people are talking about. How many teams come to OT and try to attack us?

    City are a real threat and have improved enormously over the last couple of seasons, hardly suprising considering the investment. I think the advantage for us is experience, although we have a lot of young players the collective has been there before. Another big advantage for us is we are at home!

    I hope it will be an exciting game but i all depends on the team line ups, we will have to wait until Sunday.

    As for people dismissing CFC, I am sure SAF hasn't, they will be a threat for the title as always.

    incidentally, in no way is this a must win game for either side, it is far too early for that, those games occur around easter, not now.

  • Comment number 37.

    @dogeared

    Sure Utd have 'bought' their players. But with their own money.

  • Comment number 38.

    Weres soul patch? Always brightens up my day

  • Comment number 39.

    I think it'll be another thriller - 6-5 to United! Haha

  • Comment number 40.

    “Chelsea have invested but I would not count Romeu just yet as he is basically on loan at the moment. With Barca able to sign him back at the end of the season if they want to. But they are still a few players short of having the depth required to win a title.”

    They have the option to buy him back yes but I doubt they will as they have Fabregas, Javier M, Xavi, Ineista, busquets and a few other promising midfielders.

    I think Chelsea have just a strong a team as United to be honest, you say they don’t have a strong enough squad to win the title but this is the same team that won it 2 years ago with additions such as Torres, Merieles, Ramires, Luiz, Mata ect so how is that statement accurate?

  • Comment number 41.

    @Bear_with_it

    "this is the same team that won it 2 years ago with additions such as Torres, Merieles, Ramires, Luiz, Mata ect"

    Erm...

    Minus Cole
    and Deco
    and Belletti
    and Ballack

    and with Drogba, Lampard, Terry and Anelka all two years older and showing it.

  • Comment number 42.

    #41 kanchelskis_legend

    Ha, don't you kid yourself!

  • Comment number 43.

    @42

    Certainly a lot more of our money was 'earned' than yours or City's. I'm not one to blast either of your clubs as I don't see the alternative to getting up to our level but I certainly don't agree with the fact 'United did exactly the same'.

  • Comment number 44.

    @37

    What a load of plop plops. Dollars is dollars, City (and Chelsea) are just fortunate to have a generous owner - the bottom line is they have all bought success in the same manner.

    And that is why City are going to dominate - there is no end to their spending, they easily have the best squad in the PL, and that will tell sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 45.

    @44

    Making outlandish statements doesn't make you sound clever by the way. You do realise IF (and I understand it's a big IF) the Sheik's pull out or there is some sort of uprising in their country then City will ultimately fail. The model isn't sustainable and wont be for many a year.

    To dominate you have to build teams up year after year, you need a stable manager (see Chelsea's recent struggles) and the right infrastructure. City have none of these (at the minute) so to proclaim the end of United and City dominance is very foolish.

    You don't easily have the best squad either by the way, you have a worse squad than us but possibly a better 11 on paper. Although overall your 'team' is way behind us.

  • Comment number 46.

    44

    "the bottom line is they have all bought success in the same manner"

    yeah city gained wealth through title's, champs league, and numerous other cups.

    oh dear

  • Comment number 47.

    “Erm...

    Minus Cole
    and Deco
    and Belletti
    and Ballack”

    Cole and Belletti hardly featured for Chelsea during that title winning year….

    Deco and Ballack yes but now Chelsea have Mata, Ramires and Merieles who are just as good if not better than those 2 players.

    Lampard scored a hat trick a few weeks ago, you look at Scholes and Giggs who were also on the wrong side of 30 but helped United win the title last seaond. Drogba and Anelka will still offer much needed competition up top.

    Anyone counting out Chelsea because they don’t have a title winning squad is crazy IMO, the players they have are proven winners with bags of ability not to mention are only a few points behind the clubs from Manchester.

  • Comment number 48.

    @MrBlueBurns

    What?!

    I was merely questioning the utterly flawed logic of the other poster, and his bizarre claim that it was 'the same team' but with extras players. You surely can't agree with him on that?

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 40 "I think Chelsea have just a strong a team as United to be honest, you say they don’t have a strong enough squad to win the title but this is the same team that won it 2 years ago with additions such as Torres, Merieles, Ramires, Luiz, Mata ect so how is that statement accurate?"

    First, your best players are two years older, which does show, although they arn't past it yet. Second, this was under a different manger, with greater experience. Third, this does not account for the building that other teams have done. For example City and Liverpool are much stronger now than two years ago, with United in a much better position. Also, Chelsea have very limited cover in defence, even with the addition of Luiz, a couple of injuries and the back four begins to look a lot weaker. I think next season Chelsea will compete for the title but I think this season 2nd or 3rd is the best they can muster.

  • Comment number 50.

    @Bear_with_it

    At no point have I denied the strength of Chelsea's squad. I consider Chelsea genuine title contenders this year and think they have a very very strong squad.

    I was merely addressing the wayward logic of your claim that somehow the current squad is exactly the same as the 09/10 one, but decorated with more players.

  • Comment number 51.

    #48 kanchelskis_legend

    Oh, there may have been some flawed logic. Along the lines of Trigger and the same broom for 27 years.... with 10 handles and 11 brushes.

    But, if you think that Lampard etc, that you quoted, are showing signs of age, I think you are mostly wrong. Also, I think Chelsea's squad IS as good as the one that won the double.

    Is Man U's squad as good as last season?

  • Comment number 52.

    44.
    At 16:28 21st Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:

    @37

    What a load of plop plops. Dollars is dollars, City (and Chelsea) are just fortunate to have a generous owner - the bottom line is they have all bought success in the same manner.

    And that is why City are going to dominate - there is no end to their spending, they easily have the best squad in the PL, and that will tell sooner rather than later.

    ________________________________________________________________

    I was going to berate you for being a City fan who doesn't have the first clue about your own club. A check back over your posts shows you to be a Scouser. The fact that you need to parade City around as the dominant force for years to come - just to rile Utd fans - speaks volumes about you as well as the current 'ambitions' of your club.

    Have you even heard of the FFP rules? I mean I know you're not even in the Europa League this year, but surely you must have some clue of what UEFA are doing to prevent financial doping. City's own executives have admitted that their spending will slow down dramatically in the coming years, and some of their huge spending (to their credit) has been in projects that are aiming towards sustainability.

    The wayway idea that they have a limitless pot of money that will help them conquer all for the foreseeable future is one that not even their own fans are buying into, yet it's something that you - a Liverpool fan - are having to cling on to in your desperate times.

    Tragic

    19

    x

  • Comment number 53.

    To those saying City aren't getting closer to United can I suggest you look at the wider context and not just the games between the two. City have climbed the PL in the last couple of seasons so 'are' getting closer to United.

    A lot are also commenting about how United have had a much more difficult run up to the derby game than City. This is a fair comment, however I would suggest that City of even last season wouldn't have come this far in the season taking the wins that they have. Last seasons City might've gone unbeaten up until now but would definitely have accumulated more draws than the silly one conceded at Fulham and not scored as many goals.

    This for me shows that Mancini has learnt from last season and has the players within the squad to help him achieve a more PL look to the team.

    My biggest disappointment so far this season has been the Bayern Munich game where if anything Mancini was too attack minded. I therefore predict a balanced team for Sunday, neither an attacking or fully defensive one. With this in mind, as much as I'd love a win for City I predict a 2-2 draw being played out with plenty of chances.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't know why people go on about chelsea could have beat us at old trafford. Man utd could easily have scored 8 goals. Hernandez times his pullback shot wrong from 6yds first half, hernandez chest it on to his knees when in on goal. Then second half nani smashes the underside of the bar, rooney slips with a penalty. Rooney hits the posts from 3yds easier to score with hernandez fouled in rebound could be another pen. Berbatov should score virtually an empty net but he doesn't connect well and he places it exactly where ashley cole is on the line. These chances were even easier then the ones we scored. In fact those 5 golden opportunities were probably easier then the 3 goals we scored.

  • Comment number 55.

    @51

    I would say yes are squad is better this year but no we are not playing like it. Which is obviously a contradiction!!

    If our back 4 was settled then it would be a definite yes as I am really impressed with Young, Jones & Smalling and the improvements in play of Nani & Wellbeck. The fact is our back 4 isn't settled and our midfield of Carrick & Anderson is appalling (IMO). So that most definitely didn;'t answer your question!!

    I think the other guy's point is valid, I think you will have to look to replace a fair number of your team soon. Only takes one big injury and the likes of Lams, Terry, Drogba and a few others will struggle to come back properly from.

    How your youth set up is I don't know, everyone raves about Mcreachan (spellign) but i have no idea to this lads potential.

  • Comment number 56.

    @51 "Is Man U's squad as good as last season?"

    United's squad is most definitely better in all but the goalkeeper position, and De Gea is making great progress with Lindegaard offering much needed competition. Also, Jones and Young have settled in well providing more competition in attack and extra cover in defence. The strength of United's squad is shown by the fact that last seasons joint top goalscorer struggles to make it on the bench.

  • Comment number 57.

    @MrBlueBurns

    See #50 for my view re Chelsea's squad. Not sure how they compare to the double-winning one. Guess we'll see at the end of the season.

    United's squad? Far better than last season. Outgoing players barely played, quality players brought in, and countless players 25 or under with a year's more experience under their belts. Not to mention hopefully having Valencia for 9 months, not 3.

  • Comment number 58.

    "I was merely addressing the wayward logic of your claim that somehow the current squad is exactly the same as the 09/10 one, but decorated with more players."

    You do realise 9 of that starting 11 back then are still playing every week, Lampard, Drogba and Anelka are still qulaity players that most teams would love to have. The squad is basically the same or at least the starting 11.

    The Chelsea squad has got stronger then back in 09/10 IMO and have been playing very well so far this season.

  • Comment number 59.

    Angry_Dragon
    If city were to attack minded against Bayern how do you explain them not even having another shot oin target from the 30th minute and not even going in bayerns box once since then. Also Mancini hasn't learnt he just got given more players. This has been a quiet transfer window for Man city and they still spent £82m on players thats more then we got for Ronaldo.

    Man city have spent £380m more net since 2006 and man utd net spend since 1986-1998 was £4m. Man city spent £537.67m since 2006 although most of it came in 2008-2011 and there net spend for last 5 years is £437.12m compare that to £56.85m of man utd since 2006 and man utd have been successful. Thats over £380m more then man utd and they have caught up with chelsea expenditure even though they bought big again recently.

    Man utd are how traditional clubs with history win trophies similar to what Barcl=elona do mix young players with the odd marquee signing while Real Madrid are similar to man city but have more history.

    Anzhi and PSG are spending big as well. I feel sorry for wenger as teams like liverpool chelsea man city have spent such large sums of money it is difficult for him to compete with them. Even in 90's leeds and newcastle spent big. Man utd had a £4m nte spend from 1986-1998.

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm going to be blunt here: about half of the United squad would probably struggle to hold down a place in the starting XI of ''The King's Arms'' on a Sunday morning.

    However, one thing that Ferguson is good at - other than winning cheap trophies against low-standard English opposition - is getting mediocre (and worse) players to mould into a successful, synergistic team. A perfect example being the ''the Trafford trundler'', who - despite being of limited ability - consistently plodded along in United's midfield for 15 years.

    If City are to surpass United, then they've got to do two things:

    1. Successfully blend as a team.
    2. Avoid dropping points against the pub teams which make up half of the EPL.

    So far, they are succeeding at point #2, and it looks like they are well on their way to achieve point #1. City, after all, have by far the more talented squad (if you combined the two Manchester teams, then City would have about 9 or 10 of their players in the starting line-up).

    Obviously, Manchester United won't be winning on Sunday (unless they benefit from any ''interesting'' decisions), but I'm guessing it'll be a draw if Manchester City aren't playing at anything above 75% of their potential.

  • Comment number 61.

    Bear_with_it

    For the ??th time, I was not questioning the quality of the squad, merely its identity.

    All the players listed above (plus Carvalho, come to think of it) have gone, so it's just wrong to say that it's "the same but with more players".

    And the starting XI point is moot too; over the course of a season, the makeup of the SQUAD is more important than that of the TEAM.

  • Comment number 62.

    #55 wirral18

    I think the other guy's point is valid, I think you will have to look to replace a fair number of your team soon. Only takes one big injury and the likes of Lams, Terry, Drogba and a few others will struggle to come back properly from.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    How many injuries are you expecting? (Or should I say, hoping for. ;-) )

    We have cover. Wednesday was Luiz and Ivanovic. Sunday could be Terry and Alex. Likewise Malouda, Torres and Anelka replaced by Mata, Drogba and Sturridge. Lampard out? Meireless or Ramires in. Essien still to play.

    Anyway, you and Swollennookdle and kanchelskis_legend all seem confident and I have nothing to say otherwise on Man U's squad. But, they do seem to be letting the opposition play (i.e. having a lot more of the ball) in a way that most Man U teams don't and maybe it is that midfield that people doubt.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    Phil this is beyond a joke now, you write this blog EVERY SINGLE TIME there is a Manchester Derby - I can't believe you get paid for this

  • Comment number 65.

    Swollennoodle

    De Gea is a better shop stopper then van der saar. So far De gea is close to saving as many shots as van der saar did in 30 league games in 8. Some away games last year the opposition shot 5 times and scored 3 and some of them from renbounds. De gea normally saves over 50% pf the shots on target

  • Comment number 66.

    #60 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    I think the one thing that most posters on here will agree with is that you speak utter rot most of the time.

    You never did answer my questions on your psychology the other day. Get a bit twitchy did you?

  • Comment number 67.

    I think SAF will want to prove a point. He will go with a very attack-minded formation, that "we're going to score one more than you" approach. With a number of United's defensive players out injured, returning, or not at their best, it makes sense to try and keep the ball as high up the park as possible.

    City have yet to play the other top teams and hence, there's a greater possibility of dropping points as the season progresses. I see this being a factor. Mancini will try to prevent Utd from getting 3 points, rather than City going for 3 points. He will set out defensively.

  • Comment number 68.

    #65 hafijur

    Not so easy to judge on that though. That Van Der Saar was tested less is mainly a comment on the defence as much as anything. Also, the key for keepers like VDS and Cech is coming up trumps after long periods of nothing to do. For all I know, De Gea could have made 3 or 4 saves in quick succession in some penalty box pinball!

  • Comment number 69.

    soul_patch is nothing more than a waste of bandwidth. Does nothing but bore me. People try and have something resembling a sensible conversation and he just sidetracks the whole thing because people feel impelled to argue with the spaff that he chats. It's impossible to coordinate mass ignoring, so as long as he decides to come on here, he'll just ruin any sort of conversation. Utterly tiresome and utterly antisocial.

  • Comment number 70.

    #69, I'd still rather read him than Phil McNulty writing another "noisy neighours" article. Surely someone must notice at BBC that their chief football correspondent recycles the same story time and time again

  • Comment number 71.

    And the thing with McNulty's follow up article, the match report, is that it is going to focus almost entirely on Wayne Rooney and Aguero with no talk about anything else

  • Comment number 72.

    66. At 17:01 21st Oct 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    You never did answer my questions on your psychology the other day. Get a bit twitchy did you?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I must have missed those questions. I'm a busy man, and I usually have work to do. I can't spend all my time offering thoughtful and insightful opinions on BBC blogs.

  • Comment number 73.

    69. At 17:04 21st Oct 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd appreciate it if you didn't attempt to take this blog off-topic. Can we please stick to the subject matter, chaps?!

  • Comment number 74.

    a busy man!!!!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    hafijur "De Gea is a better shop stopper then van der saar. So far De gea is close to saving as many shots as van der saar did in 30 league games in 8. Some away games last year the opposition shot 5 times and scored 3 and some of them from renbounds. De gea normally saves over 50% pf the shots on target"

    The amount of shots saved is more to do with what's in front of the keeper than anything else. Van der Sar was easily one of the top 3 keepers in the world and I don't think that the same can be said about De Gea (not yet anyway). Don't get me wrong, I think De Gea is a great keeper and shows amazing promise, but assessing the United squad of this season and last, Van Der Sar is clearly the better keeper.

  • Comment number 76.

    #72 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    I can't spend all my time offering thoughtful and insightful opinions on BBC blogs.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    I wasn't aware that you'd spent any time on that thus far. More's the pity!

  • Comment number 77.

    @14, @26

    Why do Manchester United fans have an incapacity to admit their side is lucky?
    Next you'll be telling me that your squad is better than Manchester City's?
    Or that you're still able to compete for the same quality of players? (Nasri, prime example)
    As an Arsenal fan I can admit my side are now a shade of the team from 4,5,6 years ago, but in that space of time in the future, will Manchester United fans ever admit their side are not as good as they once were?

  • Comment number 78.

    @71 Kapnag I do agree with you, Phil chooses topics that he knows will get a lot of response, which I suppose is his job. However, this does result in the same stories being recycled season after season. But it is the lack of insight and coverage of smaller teams that is the worst part. Tim Vickery is a much better writer and gives great coverage of South American football. Hopefully Phil can follow his example and write a blog about something we didn't already know.

  • Comment number 79.

    7.At 15:25 21st Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:
    @4

    You couldn't be more wrong.

    City are going to dominate for years to come, and I expect Chelsea to be runner's up this season with Utd and Liverpool battling it out for 3rd.

    Utd have ridden their luck for too long now and are going to get found out.



    I've been hearing this for the best part of a decade now. Even if City beat United on Sunday and go on to win the league - they won't have overtaken us. And won't without 20 years of constant success.

  • Comment number 80.

    @MyleeBee

    Lucky? We're 'just lucky' are we? Some teams are 'just lucky'? What, is it cos of astrology or something? Or is it your way of saying the officials are on our side? I'm confused.

    Either you're being a mysticist, or you're being a conspiracy theorist.

    Both are faintly tragic.

  • Comment number 81.

    Its almost not worth having comments pages on football stories because appears most of the people who comment on stories about Manchester City are United fans who have absolutely no grip on reality. I wonder when they are going to get bored of pointing out things like 'man city will nevr be as gud as citeh till they have won 19 leeges and at least 3 chapyons leeges.' I have never heard a City fan, and I know quite a few, claim that Manchester City are a club the size of United. Nor do I imagine they would want to be like United, the majority of whose fan base exists not only outside manchester, but outside Europe.

    City are a real football club, they haven't tasted success for a huge amount of time and I for one have no sour grapes about their current fortune. United are the footballing equivalent of GM, and no-one under the age of about 50 can claim to have followed them through thick and thin.

    Come on Derby

  • Comment number 82.

    @52

    You've kinda over-analysed that bud ;o)

    My comments on City being the dominant future force is merely an observation. I don't like it one bit - it will make things harder for Liverpool. Neither do I like the ethics behind their spending.

    My forecast is objective however - they will overtake Utd as the leading Manchester team and remain there for a considerable time.

  • Comment number 83.

    #78 Swollennoodle

    @71 Kapnag I do agree with you, Phil chooses topics that he knows will get a lot of response, which I suppose is his job.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Phil's job should surely be to host the story, not go out of his way to create false debate! It IS the same old, same old, but this is a consequence of the disappearance of 606. I think we all know what the issues are to be discussed without his input. He could join the mods for all that his input matters on something like this.

  • Comment number 84.

    #81, this is a blog about the Manchester Derby!

  • Comment number 85.

    My forecast is objective however - they will overtake Utd as the leading Manchester team and remain there for a considerable time.


    ==

    Weren't Chelsea supposed to do that? There are no guarantees in football...except Sir Alex will be the one smiling at the end

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 Kapnag

    Surely, the only guarantee is that Man U and Man City will still exist as clubs after Ferguson has unplugged his hair dryer for the last time.

    And even that's not guaranteed! :-)

  • Comment number 87.

    Manchester utd 1 ...Man city 3......This time poor defensive mistakes that have been there will get punished,

  • Comment number 88.

    Manchester City have bought success (like Chelsea) and therefore can't be compared with United who are a proper side with a history of well earned success going back over 50 years. They are a blight on the Premiership and have no admirers in the wider football world. Mancini can't be called a great manager - with the money he has to spend he's bound to succeed in the long run.

  • Comment number 89.

    @18

    forgiven, and forgotten, at least in my opinion. Since that whole incident hes put in performance after performance for utd, so its fine to forgive and forget the incident.

  • Comment number 90.

    77.At 17:13 21st Oct 2011, MyleeBee wrote: As an Arsenal fan I can admit my side are now a shade of the team from 4,5,6 years ago, but in that space of time in the future, will Manchester United fans ever admit their side are not as good as they once were?

    LOL!....R u Soul-Patch in Disguise!?!?....maybe UTd fans will start to considering there is a chance their side is not as good as before when they lose a Premiership.....remind me again, when was the last time Arsenal won anything!?!?

    The best team is the one that wins most matches...not the one with the nicest looking team sheet!

  • Comment number 91.

    @85

    Chelsea have certainly been propelled to success, but had they kept Mourinho I'm sure they would have done better.

    I miss the special one :o( Hope he comes back to the PL.

  • Comment number 92.

    City have spend a kings ransom to kick the CL door in and make a PL title challenge. That's always going to be the way to intially respond. However, given the vast training and educational facilities City are planning, that's clearly not the long term stance. As someone said it isn't sustainable. Long term City will be a team that complements it's developed talent with the odd established quality player.

    May the best team win on Sunday, hopefully City, but if United, then so be it.

    Let the rest of the country behold in wonder the spectacle of a 10 goal thriller :)

  • Comment number 93.

    #91, even though Sir Alex beat Mourinho to the title in 2006/07, does this mean you put Mancini on par with him?

  • Comment number 94.

    what? the match aint been played yet and we have four blogs on it is that not over doing it?

    specially when all is said and done the match will depend on Clattenburgh's diagonal runs.

  • Comment number 95.

    TTSPX: If you hadn't asked after Soul Patch he might not have shown up with his attempts to depress us all - pity I can't get the Brit-trashers modded because they are impossible to debate with given that they live in an alternate reality to most British fans.

    Soul Patch: Did you catch the Otelul vs United game? Please note. In the first half United kept posession very nicely in the first half...just how you continentals like your football...but did nothing with it! Posession and technique clearly aren't everything so let us appreciate what we appreciate please!

    Anyway...on to a proper discussion
    *******

    Credit where credit's due, City are improving every season and are currently top of the league. However their record against big time teams has always been a bit iffy and United still have a 100% record at home in the Premiership season .

    United will still need their A game a a third substandard first half in a row will probably be punished but the Reds are still the safe bet here.

  • Comment number 96.

    Simple question: Are City now in a position to overtake United?

    Simple Answer: NO

    Honestly, I think City are vastly over- rated.They may have big name players, but to me, they still look very pedestrian against stern opposition (Bayern Munich, Napoli, Villareal)

    Most of the noise around City has been made by the media. City has started the season very well, but as we all know, it's a marathon, and not a sprint. Let's see where they are on the table come May 2012.

    I expect a United victory on Sunday.

    NB: I'm no a United fan, by the way.

  • Comment number 97.

    @91 Perhaps Chelsea would have done better under Jose but they would have continued to play exceptionally boring football. IMO Chelsea should have kept Ancelotti, who is a great manager and one for whom I had a lot of respect. Torres was forced on him and Wilkins was sacked probably without his knowledge so to be expected to win under these conditions is almost impossible. This is the advantage Fergie has over other managers, he is in complete control. Something i'm sure other managers envy.

  • Comment number 98.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 99.

    If Mancini grows some and actually goes for it, they should cruise to victory. Man U's squad is starting to age. the youngsters arent the same quality as the players they are to replace. Man City have by far the better squad and should just play like they do.

    They wont tho, Mancini is too defensive in these types of games, will be a dull draw.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think city are going to play 4-5-1 with balotelli as the lone striker, he has found some form this season and im not sure aguero will be risked so soon after coming back from his injury. As for dzeko his form has been so woeful in the last couple of games he would be lucky to make the bench, for all the criticism of torres and his price-tag he is a proven premiership striker and has started to show this season why so many defences use to fear him.
    Mancini has a tendency to go for big name player over form players in my opinion and i feel sorry for adam johnson. He has played quite well when called upon and although nasri is a fantastic player his form has also been poor this season but i reckon nasri will still get the nod ahead of johnson.
    However i think the match will be won by united simply on the strength of the width they have in the side, nasri and silva tend to tuck in alot more and play through the centre and although that gives them creativity than united may lack playing through the centre is not a tactic that has proved successful for many teams at united, in nani and young they have two wingers who play more naturally wide and i also think they have greater strength in both fullback positions than city.
    If city do win though it will probably be down to the centre of midfield, i think ferguson will play a 4-4-2 with hernandez and rooney with rooney doubling up as a midfielder to try and counteract 4-5-1 but with carrick/fletcher/giggs in the middle of the park they might play in the same style they did last season, the midfield with those player in can at times look pedestrain and slow. By no means is cleverly the finished article and anderson still remains inconsistent, however the style of football united were playing was down to youth as a pass and move style which carrick and fletcher never seem to adopt. They may have conceded allot more chances at the back but the football at the beginning of the season reminded me of some of ferguson teams of the past, more intent on outscoring the opposition and playing good football.

 

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