Man United have won their last three but have been far from convincing as they prepare to welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford for the 191st derby.
Manchester United are putting the final touches on preparation for their biggest game of the season so far when they host Manchester City on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s side have won their last three games across all competitions but been far from convincing in each. They have had to rely on goals from Scott McTominay, Diogo Dalot and Harry Maguire to beat Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen respectively.
They welcome to Old Trafford a City side who are also not yet at their imperious best. Pep Guardiola’s side have won their last two since the return of Rodri but return to a ground where they were beaten last season.
There has been plenty of talk in the build-up to the 191st Manchester derby, and MEN Sport has rounded up what a selection of pundits have said.
“I went to the Copenhagen game on Tuesday night, I mean United were really poor first half, they were better in the second,” Neville told Sky Sports. “They were poor last week, you know the form’s not there – they are not playing well.
“So we are just reliant on talking about, you know it’s a derby, they’ll be up for it. I would always say for United on Sunday that if they are in the game with 20 minutes to go they’ve got a real chance just because of the crowd and the way in which the feeling will be in the stadium – that happened last season when they were 1-0 down and won 2-1.
“There’s no way United are going to come out on Sunday and blitz City in football terms because they’ve not been at that level, but City are just a bit below par as well so it will be interesting to see. United can bring the best out of City with the football that they play and last season was a surprise – we’ll see what happens. I’m more hopeful than expectant.”
“Unfortunately for everyone else you can’t have Rodri suspended every week,” Ferdinand said. “He’s the only indispensable player in the squad.
“You can talk about [Erling] Haaland but if he is out, [Julian] Alvarez comes in and scores. If Rodri doesn’t play they don’t look the same at the moment. Until this magician Pep finds someone else to go in and cover him. I don’t know what it is yet.”
“United are in an unfulfilling holding pattern, seeking to eke out results and get by before their next refresh,” Carragher wrote in his column for the Telegraph. “It is a measure of their faltering progress that they are preparing for another Manchester derby with trepidation rather than expectation.
“Yet again, the only means by which they can stop Manchester City this weekend is by playing ‘underdog football’ – sitting deep, counter-attacking and hoping defensive resilience yields a reward.
“Ten Hag was never going to reach City’s extraordinary level in his second season. It would be unreasonable to expect him to be able to go toe-to-toe with the champions on Sunday without risking humiliation. But 15 months on from his Old Trafford appointment, there are valid questions to be asked about where the team is going and what the manager’s footballing vision really is.”
“They will be the apprehensive team on the day, given their performances in the last couple of games,” Souness wrote in his column for the Daily Mail. “They will have to come up with a game plan, while for City it will be simply, ‘We’re going to dominate you and outscore you and win the game’.
“United are taking a fair bit of criticism but there are always two results which can get them out of that situation and turn their season around. Beat Manchester City or beat Liverpool. It’s a very different mood among the supporters and the camp if you achieve either of those.
“What better time to stand up, be counted and achieve that than Sunday at Old Trafford, where images of United’s greatest player hang from the front of the stadium and where a sea of flowers has been laid? This is their chance to change things and prove me and thousands of supporters wrong in the process.”
“This game now puts him under huge pressure but they’re not expected to win that game so it’s almost a bonus for them,” Keown told talkSPORT. “I do see City winning it.
“United are not expected to win the derby, the club is not where it was. What are we, ten years since they last won a Premier League? This is like a rebuilding process, the club is up for sale, there’s huge problems there.”