How Manchester United should approach the Manchester derby is a damning admission of two clubs close geographically but worlds apart in every other sense

How Manchester United should approach the Manchester derby is a damning admission of two clubs close geographically but worlds apart in every other sense

Last update: 4 March 2022 Tags: Manchester United, Manchester CIty, Premier League, Manchester Derby, rivals. Categories: Premier League.

Featured image courtesy of Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Manchester derby in the modern era is always an important game but it has also become a reminder in recent years of the stark contrast between two clubs going in opposite directions. The match itself hasn’t always gone the way of the noisy neighbours because derbies are always unpredictable. However, when the sides meet (particularly in the reverse fixture) there is a familiar pattern. Manchester City are invariably challenging for the title and are so far ahead of their city rivals who find themselves in a annual battle for Champions League football (at best). There are light years separating these two rivals and it all comes from the top.

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Whilst Manchester City are a well-oiled winning machine (pun attended) with a world class manager and state of the art facilities, Manchester United are a chaotic, greed driven mess. Until that changes, Manchester United will continue to be the inferior side for years to come, a depressing state of affairs for the fans whose memory of the glory days becomes increasingly faint.

So, with that in mind, how should Manchester United go about defeating the league leaders at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon? The answer is the only way these players know how. There has been a misconception this season that Manchester United have a great squad which just isn’t clicking. That isn’t true. The squad lacks quality in central midfield (especially a specialist defensive midfielder), is still without a recognised right winger and relies on two ageing strikers for its goals and that doesn’t even address the situation with Maguire.

The only way that Ralf Rangnick can approach this game and hope to pick up a result is by approaching it in a similar vain to how United have set up in the derby for the last 5 years or so. Defend deep, stay organised, accept Manchester City will see most of the possession and look to counter with pace, purpose and ruthless efficiency. Now for this, I think the sensible approach is to drop Ronaldo to make way for an extra man in midfield. Bruno Fernandes can play as a false 9 in attack and be an extra cog in midfield when in defence. Elanga and Sancho can provide the pace in attack, playing in wide forward roles when on the counter and dropping deep to support the full backs in defence.

That for me is the best approach as it puts all the emphasis on Manchester City being at their brilliant best. If that happens, they will cut through United effortlessly as they do to most sides in Europe. However, they go into this game in their least encouraging form for some time and that continuing on Sunday is what United must bank on. With Rashford, Ronaldo and Cavani all on the bench, United would have the options to make changes to massively impact the game late on, may it be to find a late winner or to put the game to bed.

There may be worlds between these two Manchester clubs but if United fail to win on Sunday, top four hopes will be all but over and come next season, the two clubs will be in different galaxy’s.