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Can Milner provide a third way for Man City?

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 23:52 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has some interesting dilemmas ahead of what is likely to be one of the most hotly-contested Manchester derbies in years at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Does he play with two strikers - a formula that has been successful against weaker teams in the Premier League - and look to exploit a Manchester United defence which has conceded vastly more shots on target this season?

Will the Italian manager opt for the formation which was key in beating United during the FA Cup semi-final last season, where Yaya Toure operated behind lone striker Mario Balotelli?

Or with a draw enough to keep City top of the league, could he opt for a more conservative approach which was more in keeping with the early part of last season?


Manchester City have been more positive this season under Mancini


City's biggest struggles this term have come in the Champions League and some of the games, including their narrow win over Villarreal on Tuesday and the defeat by Bayern Munich last month, appear to have crystalised Mancini's options.

During the first half of the Villarreal victory, the City boss withdrew winger Adam Johnson to add more control to central midfield with Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong operating behind Toure.

But it wasn't until Sergio Aguero came onto the pitch to replace Nigel de Jong late on that City finally landed the telling blow with the Argentine scoring an injury-time winner.

The key difference on Sunday is that City do not need to win. With United's firepower and an unsettled defence, Mancini may opt for a similar course of action to Tuesday by keeping it tight before unleashing his attacking options.

"City are probably still trying to find their feet about what sort of team they are and what sort of formation they will play because they had a lot of new additions in the summer," says former City right-back Danny Mills.

"Naturally a lot of these players want to go out and attack. Last season they were very Italian and very rigid under Mancini, but the flair players have settled in a bit more and have taken them to next level. At the moment, though, City look a bit fragile at the back when they attack."


Nigel de Jong is still a key player for Man City

No more was that underlined than in City's defeat by Bayern, where De Jong sat on the bench and a front four of Aguero, Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Samir Nasri left City's defence overexposed.

Following the negativity from last season, it might be a price that City fans are occasional willing to pay but there may be another way of incorporating two strikers without undermining their defensive solidity in midfield.

We are talking here of James Milner, who was the architect of City's stoppage-time winner on Tuesday, and also showed further evidence of his improvement with a superb pass and finish against Aston Villa last Saturday.

The 25-year-old can offer a balance to City's midfield should Mancini want to keep United's defenders on their toes.

Mills, who played with Milner at Leeds, adds: "James has a good engine, he will get forward and score the odd goal but he gives you assurances. When you go to Old Trafford in a derby it's a cauldron, and the odd tasty tackle will be flying in. You need to know what you are going to get.

"Do you know what sort of game Nasri is going to play? Do you know what sort of game Johnson is going to play? Possibly not. Even Aguero, you are not quite sure, but Milner is going to give you an eight out of 10 performance no matter what."

The Italian in Mancini may opt for a five-man midfield including Milner and without Nasri, but that system at Chelsea last season turned out to be a passive one.

Yet the problems United have suffered in defence will have not gone unnoticed at the Etihad.


Manchester United have conceded more shots on target than any other Premier League team

United keeper David de Gea has made the most saves of any keeper in the Premier League this season and Mills believes this stems from an unsettled defence.

"United have still struggled to find a replacement for Gary Neville, although it hurts me to say that," Mills states. "Rio Ferdinand has been unfortunate with injuries and Nemanja Vidic has been a massive loss.

"Phil Jones has come in and done pretty well but he's only played a few games, and Jonny Evans does not cut it for me as a Manchester United centre-half, so you have three or four defenders who have been injured, out of form or not settled.

"Vidic will be a huge plus coming back in, but who plays alongside him? If you think about it, Fabio, Jones, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia have all played at right-back. In defence it is very difficult to build relationships and understanding when players are constantly changing."

Despite United's defensive problems, Mills believes they still hold the advantage and will use the pace of Wayne Rooney and Nani to get at City's backline as Mills thinks they have issues of their own.

That may prove to be the telling factor for City and getting the balance right on Sunday will be a tricky task for Mancini.

Still, against Villarreal he showed no fear of changing tactics when things were not going to plan and in that aspect, and the ability to draw a late winner from his team, he has shown qualities that mimic his United adversary Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I feel City have to go for the jugular to have a chance of beating united on sunday. I think if they play with Aguero, Silva, Nasri and Toure as a front four they will tear United open.

    united look shaky at the back at times and with a couple of fairly inexperienced but talented youngsters they may struggle positionally although vidic and Rio may struggle against the strength and guile of players such as Toure and silva.

    i think the keepers will have a massive part to play in this game and maybe Hart just has the edge over De Gea at the moment. Just feel like Hart in much more confident. I thnk technically they are similar, but Hart just edges it for me at the moment.

    also, the midfield battle is going to be a massive one. I'm interested to see whether Ferguson will play Nani from the start becasue he has been on fire so far this season when he has played but not sure that Ferguson is confident enough that he can do a job defensively unlike someone like Park.

    Should be an interesting game!

  • Comment number 2.

    "I think if they play with Aguero, Silva, Nasri and Toure as a front four they will tear United open. "

    Hardly a suprising 'prediction' from a scouser but no chance sorry paul. It's at Old Trafford pal. Mancini will revert to type and look to shut up shop. Tight game and I reckon Rooney or Nani to nick it one nil putting the champions back where we belong!

    COME ON UNITED!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    i think it will be a cagey game, city will come for a draw and will be more than happy to take it, As a home game for United they have to attack.

    1-1 is my prediction or a last gasp 1-0 or 2-1 man united win

  • Comment number 4.

    As a neutral I hope its a cracking game. The real fun is Sunday 9:00 ITV1 though ;-)

    I predict a 1 - nil united victory. Wellbeck in the 12th minute of Fergy Time.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Mancini will play not too lose as we did last weekend. Old Trafford is a hard place to go, as is Anfield.
    I don't think de Jong has played this season (I think) due to Citys fixture list so far this season. And because of that you have seen how attacking City have been this season. I am not knocking de Jong, I think he is a fantastic player and I rate him highly, he does a great job as DM. But I think he will play Sunday and will show a more defensive City, like last season.

  • Comment number 7.

    I remember Tommy Docherty predicting the results of games and mostly he only succeeded on firing up the opponents,so no prediction from me.
    Apart from Spurs, the noisy neighbours have had a fairly comfortable season so far,if you include the CL games,then they have struggled when faced with a more organised team,so it will be up to SAF to get the tactics right.
    My beloved Utd on the other hand have played Chelsea,Arsenal,Liver,Spurs and a couple of tricky away games with WBA and Stoke.
    No doubt the neutrals will side with the bitters and that will suit Utd fine but with one win at Old Trafford in 37yrs,Utd will not want to let citeh improve this abysmal record.
    No doubt Nani will be paid special attention if De Jong plays.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'd be surprised if Mancini plays anything other than being conservative. It will be 2 holding midfielders in a midfield of 5.
    I think similarly Sir Alex will match up and put in 5 midfielders too.

    It will either be a hugely entertaining game with constant attacking, and hard tackles galore, or a cagey no-risk game, I have a feeling it will be the later.

  • Comment number 9.

    Man U have looked dodgy at the back when teams have really gone at them. Both Norwich and Chelsea could've beaten them - and OK, they didn't, but they still carved them open repeatedly and created a load of chances.
    If Norwich can do that, I would think Silva and co will have a field day if they're given the chance.
    This could turn out to be one of the games of the season if City go for it, because we both know both sides have the capacity to be terrifying going forward... but I don't think Mancini's got the balls to do it. I hope he proves me wrong, but I think he'll keep it tight - in which case, I think this game's too close to call.

    But if he DOES go after them... I think United fans could be reassessing just how good their squad is this season - coz I think they might get a beating.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh no a Man City Blog with Milner - how long before "he's rubbish and so is Barry" comments page after page....

    Milner is fantastic...a proper English footballer how doesn't feel the need to "hoof" it up field...say what you want about him and Barry but they get in the side that's top of the league...cant be that bad!


    ...............As for the result??? I'll take a draw but as long as we show intent I'm not overly concerned; losing to the Champions at home is not exactly a disaster! Still think we'll win though

  • Comment number 11.

    Cant help thinking if United just held on to John O'Shea for the right back slot their defence would have been much more settled.

    Obviously with Rio, Vidic, and Evra too that back four may have seemed a little old but given their injury problems they could do with that experience.

    Age seems to have saved Jonny Evans, as Wes Brown (if fit!) would offer more than him too.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think Ferguson will be playing for the win - and he needs to, because City look the more likely champions at the moment (spoken as a neutral)

    This might play into the hands of City however if they can hit Utd on the break.

    I reckon there will be goals for both sides but City to nick it 1-2.

  • Comment number 13.

    Milner, he's rubbish and so is Barry

  • Comment number 14.

    13. At 08:46 21st Oct 2011, It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away wrote:
    Milner, he's rubbish and so is Barry

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

    HAHA that has cheered me up sat at work being all depressed about how long away Sunday is :)

  • Comment number 15.

    I have to disagree with Danny Mills on the Johnny Evans comment. He has been Uniteds most impressive/consistent defender this season and has improved a great amount in the last 18 months. I think United will go up a gear or 2 on Sunday and we are more likely to see a Man City side like playing they do in the Champions League (not very well against solid opposition).

  • Comment number 16.

    14.At 08:54 21st Oct 2011, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    Glad to oblige :-)

  • Comment number 17.

    I've always looked forward to Manchester derby matches in the past. I'm still looking forward to this one but I hope the fact that it's a top-of-the-table clash doesn't turn it into a 'let's make sure we don't lose' bore draw.

    Stats can always be misleading. City's opening fixtures have been kind.
    So shots to goals ratios, goals, etc will be high.

    Utd conceding shots on goal is no surprise either. After De Gea's early season blunders many teams adopted a shoot on sight policy. So the high ratio is not just down to poor defending.

    From a FF point of view I hope it's a 5-4 classic!

  • Comment number 18.

    Let's wait till December when 19 games have been played, then see what the table looks like. Utd. have played all the top teams. City have not.

    I can't see City being in the top four at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is this the City fanzine I've logged onto this morning? Alan Hansen saying City will become the dominant club, Milner being the guy to lead the way - I wonder if BBC will do an article on United to balance it out (other than Rooney and his temperament)?

    Not that it matters, but then it is becoming a bit of a joke now, every single week someone at the BBC is saying "City are improving all the time, and should now be taken seriously" - City will NEVER be taken seriously, ask their fans, they know the deal. It's just not meant to be

  • Comment number 20.

    I had a sneaky feeling after the first few games of the year that this game would come along with both teams unbeatan, as pointed out by some we have played arsenal, tottenham, chelsea, liverpool and after this weekend city(the teams who more than likley will be in the top 6 end of year) all in the 1st 9 games so if we remain undefeated after this sunday i will be ecstatic

    As for the game im quietly confident because after watching city's cl games its obvious a team which is well organised and has a threat up front will cause city problems. So aslong as we have vidic, ferdinand and evra in the back and carrick can shield the back four im confident we will not only be alot more solid at the back but in turn can pick city off at the other end, add to the fact its at OT where we have a 19game winning run in the league i predict a 3-1 win for us

    COME ON UNITED

  • Comment number 21.

    I'd quite happily let no one take us seriously if it gives us more trophies like last year!

    Hopefully United won't take us seriously this weekend too and we'll show them the quality football we've been playing so far this season and why (as the above stats suggest) for the first time in a long time they're going into a derby match at Old Trafford as the UNDERDOGS.

    Now if that doesn't get a reaction I don't know what will! ;-)

    Seriously though I think if we play like we have been we can break through United defence with ease, whether it's at Old Trafford or not. As usual, it's not about how good United are that will determine the result, but which City turn up on the day.

  • Comment number 22.

    I fully agree that De jong is crucial for City, he balances City through the middle and provides a spring board for the counter. United Have the players to circumvent this and City have the players to play through an ordinary United defence. Both keepers are crucial and it will take either a mistake or brilliance to decide this game from either Hart or De gea. Personally, I hope United win as it will peg City back and set doubts in their minds. Chelsea are improving at a rate of knots and would prefer this. United aren't the force they used to be and Mancini has an Italian streak in him which will want to be less cavalier towards the business end of the season. Winter is coming and some of his players won't like the frosty chill followed by the stinging tackle that the season brings. I expect to see some more personal problems emerge as City are still unconvincing in Europe and English coaches will have taken note of their European counterpart's tactics. I feel De gean will be targeted in the air during this game and I expect Dzecko and Balotelli to be fed with plenty of free kicks, corners and probing crosses to test the Keeper's confidence, any breaking ball will be pounced on by City at some stage. United will also use the width of the pitch and are more likely to break the offside trap with the speed of their players.

  • Comment number 23.

    "As usual, it's not about how good United are that will determine the result, but which City turn up on the day."

    What a statement! Spoken as if City have won 19 league titles, and United a perennial loser, suddenly coming into money. LOL!

  • Comment number 24.

    As a Liverpool fan I think it's quite telling to see how worried the Utd fans are.

    I think they know deep down that City are going to overtake them.

    Hansen got it right - City have the better players but Utd have the better manager and team ethic, or at least that's how it was last season.

    The writing is on the wall guys.

  • Comment number 25.

    @20

    "So aslong as we have vidic, ferdinand and evra in the back and carrick can shield the back four im confident we will not only be alot more solid at the back"

    Mate, I have defended Carrick for the last few years but now the patience has all gone. He doesn't keep up with play. I can't ever rememeber him making a decent tackle, players seem to just run past him. If we have a midfield 2 of Carrick and Anderson we will lose. In fact if I see that as the line up I will go to the bookies and put a lot of money on it.

    That partnership just doesn't work, they're so slow getting around the picth. They don't break up play well and Anderson still plays too many Hollywood passes as soon as he gets the ball.

    As for this shots per game ratio, this is ALL down to our midfield. Teams just flood through all game creating chance after chance, it's not our defence or keeper it's our lack of central midfielders!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Break through it with ease, well you couldn't break through Villareal's with ease, and United have won the last 19 league games at Old Trafford

  • Comment number 27.

    When City fall out of the top four, I will lead everyone to this post - you heard it here first. This City team us not united. The manager has lost the dressing room. The players will suffer over the cold Christmas period, when instead of a break, more games are played.

    Chelsea went the same way - buying players and all. The difference? They had a great manager in Mourinho. Mancini is a joke!

  • Comment number 28.

    For all talk of the creativity and tactics that may be key to one side or the other winning, I suspect this will be a draw on par with the Liverpool v Man U game last week. That would probably suit both sides. Of course, it would also suit me as well but I doubt I figure that highly in their thoughts!

    Man U will no doubt deploy Fletcher and Park as is Ferguson's want in this sort of fixture and Mancini is in the position of being able to stick rather than twist.

    And I hope that come Monday morning, the partisans are not blaming a refereeing decision for the result!

  • Comment number 29.

    "24.At 09:38 21st Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:
    As a Liverpool fan I think it's quite telling to see how worried the Utd fans are."

    Oh dear.

    Is this all Liverpool fans have going for them now?? It used to be that they had more league titles, now it's that they KNOW City are going to go ahead of us.

    City are now one of our main rivals, in the same way that Chelsea came to become our main rivals for the title a few years ago. But always remember, whatever new team comes up they will ALWAYS be OUR rivals and not yours i'm afraid.

    Different sides have come and gone in the last 20 years but United will always be there or there abouts. Yes City will challenge us soon (maybe this year, maybe not) but we will always be there for the challenge.

  • Comment number 30.

    #24 worried? We have heard this bluster and chat now non stop for the last 3 seasons. If it's not City giving it the big one, it's arsenal or Chelsea, not so much Liverpool these days though - we are used to being fired at, because we're at the top

  • Comment number 31.

    for the first time in a long time they're going into a derby match at Old Trafford as the UNDERDOGS.


    yeah you keep telling yourself that, city have been very good this year but favs in a match at OT? someones been at the glue this morning

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

    Hansen got it right - City have the better players but Utd have the better manager and team ethic, or at least that's how it was last season.

    The writing is on the wall guys.



    why would a liverpool be so jolly about this, surely if city are getting so good its putting more distance between the time liverpool will ever win a league title again? oh but i guess at the moment since liverpool have no chance to win a league title they have to suppurt their 2nd team who challenge united weather it be arsenal, chelsea and now city

  • Comment number 32.

    18. At 09:17 21st Oct 2011, The Patriot wrote:
    Let's wait till December when 19 games have been played, then see what the table looks like. Utd. have played all the top teams. City have not.

    I can't see City being in the top four at the end of the season.

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

    HAHA brilliant - even hardened united fans would admit we're nailed on for 3rd at the bare minimum! Maybe we're going to be relegated? wake up!

  • Comment number 33.

    Mate, I have defended Carrick for the last few years but now the patience has all gone. He doesn't keep up with play. I can't ever rememeber him making a decent tackle, players seem to just run past him


    i will admit carrick is not always on it and games will pass him by but before chelsea in the cl last year he was getting bashed by fans but then throttled the chelsea midield in his best perfiormances of the year, i meant if we get a game similar to that from him im confident of the win

  • Comment number 34.

    #32, it's all academic though, what with City ending up in the Europa regardless

  • Comment number 35.

    @33

    Ha, that's a very risky way of looking at it. The problem is I'm not sure you play Fletcher instead as I still feel he's at least a yard slower since this virus problem. The main thing for me is Nani & Young start. Not only does this force Richards & Clichy/Kolorov back I also think attacking is the best form of defence.

    Midfield of Young, Anderson, Fletcher, Nani.

    Play Rooney a bit deeper and start with Wellbeck. Whatever City fans say, they are still fearful of us (especially at OT) and if we line up like that and attack them I think we'll get the result we want.

    I do think he'll play Park though I just hope it's not at the expense of Nani.

  • Comment number 36.

    I really thought I'd get a bigger reaction than that, I used to anyway.......wonder what's changed? Maybe some people are taking us seriously after all, eh?

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

    It's almost immature just how excited I get in the build-up to derby day - just happens to be my birthday on Sunday too and I'm predicting it's going to be a happy one!

    I'm just hoping both team's play their best in a great game free of dodgy refereeing and Fergie Time - so you have no excuses.....

  • Comment number 37.

    @10

    A big fan of Milner. He puts a shift in when played out wide.
    But he's wasted out there. If he's given a run in centre mid he will show what he can really do.

    Reminds me of a mixture of Viera/Gerrard rolled into 1.
    (I'm not a city fan, by the way)

    As for Barry- he had a mad season will Villa a couple of seasons back hence the interest from Liverpool at the time and City later. Everything he did just came off that season. Goals, assists, free kicks, you name it.
    But he's never had any pace. A poor mans Didier Deschamps.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ah, the Eternal Sporting Enemy...
    C'mon City!

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 10:00 21st Oct 2011, Zeemo wrote:

    I partially agree but his game has never been about pace..he's not the marquee player or the star but he does a job and does it well! As far as I'm concerned if no one wants him playing for England that's fine by me but he'll continue to be picked by city and that's all I really care about

  • Comment number 40.

    It is quite stupid to suggest City will not finish in the top 4. It is wishful thinking.

    Alot of immature posts so far.....it is quite obvious City are now serious contenders.

  • Comment number 41.

    Nice article but, so early in the season and, given what opposition the two clubs faced so far, aren't these statistics unreliable? When I saw them, SKY came to my mind and some really stupid statistics they show, because someone has surely told them to talk with facts.

    It's a mystery what team Mancini will present on Sunday. Last night, jokingly, I wrote that Mancini will play De Jonk as the lone striker. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays 3-4-5 defensive midfielders. I would like to see City trying to win the game, if the can. It's not far away now. Let's wait and see. I'm looking forward to this fixture.

    Statistics are nice but everyone keeps overlooking the important ones:
    a) City are topping the table right now because their results were good but the oppositions they faced were lesser to ones United faced so far.
    b) Goals, opportunities create, etc, are of a lesser importance given (a)
    c) City have serious problems within their team. Their players have arguments (to avoid saying the other, concerning Yaya Toure and Balotelli). They're a bunch of expensive players put together. United on the other hand always play as a team.
    d) City, so far, won with comfort all their easy fixtures and appeared to have difficulty in all the difficult / key fixtures they have. Is the match at Old Trafford any easier? United won all the must-win fixtures up to date.

    What was entertaining so far has been Alan Hansen's appraisal of the forthcoming match at Old Trafford. On the Anfield fixture, he was certain that Liverpool would win and placed all his reasons. Now he appears the Old Trafford match between United and City has draw written all over it. Doesn't he ever worry about his credibility? I'm expecting him to say, after the match, that United played with grit and determination, using the width of the pitch, defending as a unit and attacking as a unit and all his other standard cliches. I used to read his assessments on forthcoming teams to learn something. Now I read them to be entertained.

    Everybody at Manchester must be thinking of the match on Sunday.
    I'm wondering how SAF motivates his players, although I have a good idea about it.

    As Rooney said: bring it on!

  • Comment number 42.

    @29

    SAF is holding together your average squad and making them into more than the sum of their parts, but fair play, he's a brilliant manager.

    When he's gone however you had better get used to some rather unpleasant times.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ Alistair Magowan,

    "Will the Italian manager opt for the formation which was key in beating United during the FA Cup semi-final last season, where Yaya Toure operated behind lone striker Mario Balotelli?"

    It is one thing to have unaware fans talking about how City beat United in the semi final of the F.A. Cup, last season:
    a) Rooney was not playing
    b) City had an 8 days rest, being thrashed by Liverpool at Anfield because they were resting players for a match that would take part 8 days later - or is it my idea?
    c) United were on the latter stages of playing 11 matches in 35 days.

    Some perspective would be just logical.

  • Comment number 44.

    @42

    I'm afraid that's very wishful thinking and irrelevant at this moment in time.

    Like I said, is this what Liverpool fans look forward to now?? Someone other than United winning the league because you know deep down your team and certainly your manager aren't good enough any more to win the league??!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Really looking foward to this game as it should be quite an equal contest. I wish people could be slightly less biased when discussing their teams but guess its just one of those things.

    I think Man City will go there and be solid but I don't think Man Us defence if quite as good as last year (obviously something to do with the chopping and changing and integration of new players) and City could be persuaded to have a go as they do have some great quality. Having said that United are hardly a blunt tool up front!

    I'd go with 2-1 to Man U just but I do worry about their central midfield especially if Carrick starts.

  • Comment number 46.

    #42, the problem is the squad isn't as average as you lot make it out to be - Liverpool fans have been convinced they've had the better team practically every season for the last 10 years

  • Comment number 47.

    Hoping City win it. But as always, I will be content if the team who plays better and deserves it on the day win the game.

    As an aside, Jason Mandford made me laugh the other day when he said he'd met his first glory hunting City fan. Apparantly he was talking to some guy from the home counties. The chap asked him what team he supported, to which Jason replied Man City. Came the reply: "Oh really? My son supports City too, yes, he thinks they're just tremendous!". Grimace.

  • Comment number 48.

    The good news for Manchester United is that they've got Clattenburg back in their starting line-up. He always seems to perform well for United in these really big games, and he's a like-for-like replacement for Martin Atkinson.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 48. At 10:39 21st Oct 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa.

    Yes, I've read this about Clattenburg yesterday from a City fan, as he was attempting to find excuses for a City defeat on Sunday.

    So, 2-3 days before the match, excuse #1 is already on the table.
    Bring the rest on.
    You can keep the excuses. United fans want the result.

  • Comment number 50.

    @48 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    What's quite amusing about all these comments is that are any of them actually about Milner and this article. I think it goes to prove the point that Milner ain great and he aint bad. He's just one of those players that goes about his work.

    He doesn't put fear into any opposition fans but on the other hand no City fans will be appalled if he's starting of if he's on the bench. Where his best position is?? I wouldn't say winger as he doesn't have the pace to be a world class winger but then i don't know where he'd fit in the City midfield to be honest.

  • Comment number 51.

    @43

    Rooney may not have been playing, but neither was Tevez. And I have been told time and again by my red friends that we were a one man team and we'd never win anything without him.

  • Comment number 52.

    to be honest, I haven't even read the article. I don't really read any articles on BBC these days

  • Comment number 53.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/15400572.stm

    The collapse has begun! Mancini has been proven a liar!

  • Comment number 54.

    clattenberg? i thought our man was webb? at least get the names of our refs right, atkinson! lol the same atkinson who pretty much cost us a game at chelsea last year

  • Comment number 55.

    #50 wirral18

    I doubt that Milner will be the difference between the teams or that any result may hinge on his contribution.

    Bore draw, everyone blames each other for this and that and we move on, with never the twain agreeing on anything.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 50. At 10:45 21st Oct 2011, wirral18,

    Milner is a very good player who will give his all for 90' plus extra time.
    He's not an executioner but a very good unit in a team.
    To me is like Fletcher of United, with more flair on the wings.

    But what more to say about him?
    I'm surprised he was picked as a key factor for the Sunday match
    Perhaps, he was picked because he always gives his all, unlike many other top (I have to admit) players in the City line up.
    Yet, this is the norm at United.

    Everybody keeps talking about the grit and determination (should I copy from Hansen?) that helped City beat Villarreal midweek.
    Still, did you see any urgency in the City team? Because I didn't.
    Perhaps this is why Milner has been picked as the theme of the pre-match talk.

  • Comment number 57.

    Will Phil McNulty and the rest of the utterly abysmal journalists who basically crucified Teyez now issue an apology?

  • Comment number 58.

    I haven't been paying much attention to the comments on these until recently when I realised my job was too boring to actually do, but it The Patriot a troll?

  • Comment number 59.

    @55

    It does have bore draw written all over it or us nicking it at the death. Occasionally something pops up like the 4-3 a couple of years ago but only occassionally between the top teams. The eventful games between the top teams nearly always have to involve Arsenal which I will give Wenger credit for.

    Either it's because he's failed to find good enough to defenders which forces him to attack regardless or that his genuine philosophy means the games are always open and interesting.

  • Comment number 60.

    Until the charity shield game, I would have agreed that City had the psychological egde, but with that result along with the Tevez debacle has made City more vulnerable. When they beat Utd in the FA cup they wore Utd down throughout the game & stopped them from playing (Scholes got annoyed & then sent off).

    It is commendable that City have still looked imperious without Tevez though & therefore they should not be underestimated in this game. Utd do have Vidic back though so hopefully that will stem the tide of goals conceded.

    Looking forward to an open game (hopefully). Come on Utd.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 51.
    At 10:46 21st Oct 2011, Glorfindel1 wrote:

    @43

    Rooney may not have been playing, but neither was Tevez. And I have been told time and again by my red friends that we were a one man team and we'd never win anything without him.

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

    I can't understand why I stilll remember so many fans asking, prior to that semi, if Rooney was playing. I can't remember any United fans worried about Tevez though.
    And it was a fixture where City came from an 8 days rest and United on the latter stages of a gruelling 11 matches played in 35 days.

    A 1-0 win with a late Yaya Toure effort, profiting from the wrong pass from a tired United player. It's not what I'd call "demolition job", is it?

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    grit and determination is the biggest waste of space cliche on BBC blogs - what does it mean? Can you win a game on determination alone, or do you think skill and effective tactics and interplay are more important? Unsurprising it came from Hansen, who hasn't come up with any new material for 15 years.

  • Comment number 64.

    City "do not need to win", what kind of warped mentality is that? How can you possibly say they don't need to win, who knows what the table will look like in May and how important a couple of dropped points may be

  • Comment number 65.

    Ahh derby day. City fans claiming their inevitable superiority, scousers watching in glee as they anticipate the arch enemy's fall from grace, united fans goading their rivals with their efforts in the past two decades and no one with the ability to look at the match objectively.

    1) City have started like a house on fire and seemingly dealt with the Tevez fiasco (much to my annoyance) while United have gone off the boil but are still grinding out results.
    2) United are formidable at Old Trafford.
    3) Both teams had hard fought wins with their strongest 11 in the CL
    4) City still have an inferiority complex (see Charity Shield)
    5) United will never say die
    6) United have SAF, Rooney & Nani
    7) City have De Jong, Aguero & Silva
    8) Both sides have no cohesion at the back but the GKs are good shot stoppers.

    All things considered...it will be a draw and all the bitters will be placated.

    The Premier League...(apparently) the best league in the world! Well, depending on what happens on Sunday. No doubt "soul patch" etc are sharpening their knives as we speak.

  • Comment number 66.

    Chelsea will be top of the Premier League by next weekend..................

    .............and nobody has even mentioned them this season.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 64. At 10:57 21st Oct 2011, Adam Friend ,

    It was a typo, I think.
    He meant to write "City can't win on Sunday".

  • Comment number 68.

    32. At 09:49 21st Oct 2011, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    18. At 09:17 21st Oct 2011, The Patriot wrote:
    Let's wait till December when 19 games have been played, then see what the table looks like. Utd. have played all the top teams. City have not.

    I can't see City being in the top four at the end of the season.

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

    HAHA brilliant - even hardened united fans would admit we're nailed on for 3rd at the bare minimum! Maybe we're going to be relegated? wake up!

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Swindonbluearmy,

    With no support from players or even the coaching staff w.r.t the Tevez affair, Mancini will be out by Christmas. I wouldn't be surprised to see him gone after the Manchester derby.

  • Comment number 69.

    @61

    I don't recall anyone else calling it a demolition job either. And it wasn't a particularly late winner.

  • Comment number 70.

    Milner is the most overrated player I know. What does he offer the team? Don't tell me "hard work and commitment", thats not a skill, anyone can work hard. Some will say he tracks back and wins the ball, is that why he keeps getting booked very early in his games for Englnd and looks like a walking red card, remember the World Cup, he was so bad Capello brought him off before half time. Some will say he can create chances and score goals, last season he scored 1 EPL goal and assisted 5. He is passenger for most of the game passing sideways much like Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick, all english, all overrated. But it's ok, they work hard, this makes them world class (please note sarcasm).

  • Comment number 71.

    #57 The Patriot

    Tevez has become a whipping boy for all that is bad in the game, despite the fact that other players are guilty of similar 'crimes'.

    Anyway, I would have thought it was pretty obvious that the issue of the sub would be one person's word against someone else's.

    All that said and done, Tevez doesn't seem to be very bright and his agent just seems to be a self important leech.

    His agent sums up ills of the game more than Tevez does.

  • Comment number 72.

    Patriot, you seem to have an axe to grind. Just because it can't be proved doesn't mean its not true. Much like Evra and Suarez, if it can't be proved it doesn't mean that it's not true. That's why allegations need to be taken seriously for the nature of them and the fact that mud sticks.

  • Comment number 73.

    #48.
    New day, new blog but same drab as yesterday...

    #64.
    Perhaps it means that for City avoiding defeat could be more important than having to win the game at this moment?

  • Comment number 74.

    And to all you horrible posters here who crucified Tevez without even any proof.....

    Shame on you!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    @66

    Agreed that Chelsea could be in the best position of the lot. As a lot of people are saying they are a couple of points behind and I don't think a single blog has been written on their chances this year!!!

    You don't write a team like Chelsea off so early but like City they've only had 2 difficult fixtures at OT and Britannia and only got the 1 point from the 2 games. The other thing happening this year is African Cup of Nations. WHich teams will lose out the most from this??

  • Comment number 76.

    There'll be only one winner of the Manchester Derby on Sunday and that's Chelsea. The bookies will tell you that the draw is the least likely result of said Derby but I struggle to see Utd winning that game, so it will be City or the draw for me, leaving Utd in 3rd by the end of the weekend and that is where they will finish come the end of the season too because the defence at Utd is unsettled, I think Rio's legs have gone, Jones is cavalier through immaturity, Vidic has a lot of miles on the clock and signs of wear and tare are showing, I like Smalling a lot but surely Fergie will wrap him in cotton wool and turn to a different pairing more often than not, Jonnie Evans? please play him every week Fergie.

  • Comment number 77.

    Got to agree all Milner is acclaimed for is his professionalism.

    He is an "ok" footballer. He has some pace, can pass ok, can't really dribble, is versatile, high energy, and is ok at crossing the ball.

    Unfortunately, he's not going to win you a CL or World Cup. Best suited to right back or doing the donkey work in midfield where he can't get in the way of the real footballers. Poor man's John O' Shea (at a grossly inflated price!).

  • Comment number 78.

    @37

    Totally agree with you about Milner. When MON moved him into the middle at Villa he looked a completely different player with that rare ability to spot a pass ahead of the run. He was turning into a very, very good attacking midfielder. I never thought he was a winger cos he doesn't have raw pace or trickery (although his crossing is decent). I can't help but feel he made a mistake joining City who play him out of position all the time, he'd fit in well in the United team right now in the "Scholes" position. I know loads of ignorant people (including #70) will diagree with me but if you'd seen him in his last season at Villa you'd understand where I'm coming from.

  • Comment number 79.

    On the whole 'what is wrong with football?' debate that will rage now that Tevez is sadly back in the news.

    Did anyone watch the Fulham game last night????!!!! It actually made me physically angry how that player held his face. Why aren't UEFA banning this player for bringing the game into disrepute!!??

    I remember they did the AC Milan keeper (Dida?) when he pretended to be struck in the face by a Celtic fan, surely this is exactly the same thing?

  • Comment number 80.

    I still feel that the problem with City this year will infact be their defence and hopefully that will show against United, no one doubts that both United and City have imense attacks and alot of goals to score but I beleive Citys defence isnt good enough to stop goals going in against them mainly against the big teams and this will be their downfall this season.
    so far this season they have both conceded the same amount but Uniteds have been against the bigger teams such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal with them making up 4 out of the 6 conceded. whereas citys have been against lower teams such as fulham, bolton and villa.

  • Comment number 81.

    There'll be only one winner of the Manchester Derby on Sunday and that's Chelsea

    hmmm apart from if one of united or city win? chelsea have had a ridiculously easy start to the season(fixture wise) compared to us and your still 3rd

  • Comment number 82.

    @78 villaman22

    To be a "Scholes" type player you need more than 5 assists in 33 games, Milner can't create a sandwich.

  • Comment number 83.

    #79 wirral18

    On the whole 'what is wrong with football?' debate
    ------------------------------------------------------
    The irony is that it is probably the media that fuel this argument the most, to keep the sport talked about. And yet, it is their sensationalised reporting and mis-information that harms the perception of football the most!

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 18
    any reasons ?

  • Comment number 86.

    @53.At 10:47 21st Oct 2011, The Patriot wrote:

    "The collapse has begun! Mancini has been proven a liar!"

    The article says that Tevez will be charged:

    "Striker Carlos Tevez will be charged by Manchester City for refusing to warm up against Bayern Munich when he attends a disciplinary hearing on Friday."

    So how on earth does that make Mancini a Liar?

  • Comment number 87.

    I think Mancini's primary objective will be not to lose the match. For this reason he will adopt the defensive approach he used for the majority of the big PL games last year especially the first game vs Utd.
    Also he will still have the Bayern game in the back of his mind and will be aware that similar events could happen at OT should he play a similar attacking formation and tactics.
    This is why a cautious low scoring draw has to be the most likely outcome...we all hope that something the complete opposite could happen.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 86

    Too true, It would be irresponsible for Mancini to allow Tevez to go onto the pitch without having warmed up. Therefore if you don't warm-up then you are also refusing to play.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 66.
    At 10:59 21st Oct 2011, R777 wrote:

    Chelsea will be top of the Premier League by next weekend..................

    .............and nobody has even mentioned them this season.

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

    Please, repeat it on Monday :)

  • Comment number 90.

    Everybody saying citeh 2 points ahead and they've laid down the gauntlet to united, hardly......united have played spurs, Chelsea, scousers aswell as gone to WBA and Stoke, citeh have played villa, toffees, rovers, fulham, Swansea, Wigan, spurs, Swansea....with the squad they have should they not be winning these games anyway(no disrespect to any of the teams mentioned), but it comes down to how you against the teams in and around you, the harsh reality is if citeh don't win anything this season mankini will be gone, after spending an uncompromising amount of money, the owners will want to see some sort of return other then the FA cup.....putting that all to one side, how can anyone have the foresight to bet against united at home in the prem, they could be on their worst run of form ever, but can beat anyone in the world at the fortress!!!!!!!! Prediction: cagey affair, Mancini is going to leave his Jacobs at home, 2-1 united!!!!!!!!

    WE'LL KEEP OUR RED FLAGS FLYING HIGH COZ MAN UNITED WILL NEVER DIEEEEEE!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    loads of people have mentioned Chelsea. Usually along with the words "nobody has mentioned ". And it's only October for goodness sake, we'll see who is in the run in come March

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 79.
    At 11:09 21st Oct 2011, wirral18 wrote:

    On the whole 'what is wrong with football?' debate that will rage now that Tevez is sadly back in the news.

    Did anyone watch the Fulham game last night????!!!! It actually made me physically angry how that player held his face. Why aren't UEFA banning this player for bringing the game into disrepute!!??

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

    Is this situation news to you?
    I didn't see you posting your disgust when the player who sent Vidic off, midweek, was caught by the camera, stopping crying for his hurting with all the right moves of arms and legs and, as he was laying on the grass, opened his right eye, looking around to see how his act was taken by referee and the rest.

    When I saw it I couldn't help laughing even though it meant a sad red for Vidic.
    On the next day, many said, quite enthusiastically, that it was a high tackle that could result to a serious injury. Not one saw the replay I'm talking about. Or, perhaps, everyone was quick to forget it, because it served their interests best?

  • Comment number 93.

    72. At 11:04 21st Oct 2011, Thrashball wrote:
    Patriot, you seem to have an axe to grind. Just because it can't be proved doesn't mean its not true. Much like Evra and Suarez, if it can't be proved it doesn't mean that it's not true. That's why allegations need to be taken seriously for the nature of them and the fact that mud sticks.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    Trashball, so, you take the word of a manager, and crucify a person?

    This is nonsense. Yes, take allegations seriously, but not to the extent of the like of Phil McNulty and others crucifying him, effectively judging him guilty, and fans on here lambasting him based on irresponsible journalism.

    So yes, I do have an axe to grind - proper, truthful journalism!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    What a bummer. I had a few euros on Gaddafi being spotted with a light blue kaftan at OT. Oh well. Come on United.

  • Comment number 95.

    #86 and #88,
    Wait for all the details to come out. Mancini is a liar because he said he told Tevez to come on as a sub. His coaching and other players subscribe to this version.

    I was actually present for that game. The City bench seemed to be in disarray!

  • Comment number 96.

    @92

    Didn't see the game I was listening to Collymore though who didn't mention the look at the camera. Although I agree, this is equally disgusting I think it's far harder to punish as Vidic did raise his studs etc.

    What happened in the Fulham game was a push in the shoulder followed by the guy writhing on the floor clutching his face. This is very easy to punish and would very slowly bring back some supporters who have lost total faith in the beautiful game.

    Obviously this is one incident and we get so many each week but I felt this was beyond belief!!

  • Comment number 97.

    #95 The Patriot

    I was actually present for that game.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You were on the bench/within earshot and can tell us exactly what was said?

  • Comment number 98.

    I don't understand what all this about Tevez is.
    We know what happened in Munich.
    We also know what is happening now: it's called "actions and reaction".

    City have accumulated a huge payroll, due to the excessive salaries they pay to their players. They need to sell Tevez to recoup as much as they can, to support that payroll bill. The rest is just-words-and-impressions.

    If you want to have an uncontrollable laugh about Tevez and City, though, let me know and I will comply. :)

  • Comment number 99.

    Alan Hansen
    "While Manchester United have the experience to know that titles are not won in October I actually think this is a bigger game for them. If City win and go five points clear, United might never see them again".

    Is anybody there who can tell me please what Hansen means when he says "If City win and go five points clear, United might never see them again". I couldn't believe how can he say something like this. Liverpool fans, can you please show Manchester United some respect. Two decades ago we were I believe 12 titles behind you, and for now, we won the Title more than you. So, I kindly ask show some respect for the 'genius' Sir Alex and his team. Thank you.

    Bring it on Sunday.

  • Comment number 100.

    Sorry, was meant to read ".....do not subscribe....."

 

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