Manchester United title contenders?
Time flies fast in football. There will no doubt be a manager who is safe at work now and will struggle to stay in the bunker a few weeks from now. And it was just three months before that, with Manchester United “four, five years away from anywhere close to flying for the championship”, the next few seasons being written off as just “a crucial foundational phase to get the great club back”. where it should be’
After a 6-3 humiliation at Etihad in October, it’s not hard to see why. The humiliating defeat against their rivals, which has improved since their two defeats to Brighton and Brentford, would be a major reality check that gives a real indication of where the club is.
But they have since won 10 of the next 11 games, and more than that, they looked like a side to be hard to beat and to be feared. They haven’t conceded a goal in four months and with a win today they will be just one point behind their still favorite city rivals to win another title.
Do United under Erik ten Hag believe they are contenders for the title? Today’s match and the next Crystal Palace vs Arsenal match will reveal a lot. But it’s clear that the Dutch-ruled club is definitely heading in the right direction and has little chance of taking a beating as we saw in October.
Pep Guardiola tells Manchester City players home facts
By Mike McGrath
Pep Guardiola conveyed his ‘home realities’ to the Manchester City squad during private meetings this week, telling his players they need to look at themselves in the mirror and meet the club’s high standards.
The loss to Southampton in the EFL Cup has prompted City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to admit “a special element is missing” and question the desire and hunger of his teammates ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Guardiola has been honest with his players, who have also lost points against Everton and Brentford recently.
“All I can do is tell the truth to my players in good and bad times. I have more experience than them, not at playing football but better at analyzing things, I’m the only one who can tell them the truth. That’s my job. Put everyone on the team in their mirrors to look at themselves” said.
“I did it in the past, recently. I did it this week. Sometimes they just see my face without saying anything, they know exactly the situation. Maybe they’re just not used to it because they’re surrounded by people telling them how good they are. The only person in their own life who can tell them exactly what’s going on.” Mine.”
Guardiola will be absent from John Stones due to injury and Ruben Dias will be out of the field. The lunchtime fixture gives City a chance to close the gap with Premier League leaders Arsenal and show they have the consistency for another title challenge.
“The situation has been seven years, not like Erik. [Ten Hag] a few months that they built it – we’ve been here for a long, long time,” he said. “Taking it out is completely different.
I have to tell them why we are a team, that we are always there. Because we won a lot.
“I had never seen the performance in Southampton before. You can say one day, there are mistakes but that is not allowed.”
While United’s aim is to return to the Champions League standings, Guardiola believes they are also contenders for the title.
“City isn’t the only one spending a lot of money in this league. United did what they did. It’s just a matter of being calm, patient, and unconditionally supporting the manager. United are playing now as they have played all their history. I said a few months ago that United are back. People say it’s not. They’re back. I knew it, I felt it,” he said.
“In my experience, when you say championship challengers, you have to see how they play in those terms. The way we play to trust my team or another team is how consistent we are. It’s not the results, it’s how your best players play that matters.”