VMC Preview: The Rags v The Blues
Old Trafford, Stretford
Sunday, 20th September 2009
Time for the big one. The 152nd Manchester derby is here and Manchester City's continued resurgence has raised the stakes for what promises to be a fascinating clash
"We are looking forward to the game, it's one that has captured everyone's imaginations. The interest surrounding it is greater than it's been in many, many years. We are going to enjoy it, it's a challenge for us and one of the bigger challenges we will have. It's about making sure that we give a good account of ourselves, because we are here to stay. We won't go away anytime soon, we are here to make a challenge and if we can that's what we will do."
Sir Alex Ferguson:
'They have had a softish start to the season, with two or three easier games. The rivalry has gone up a notch in the last few months, with them signing all those players and then coming up with that advert and all their posters about Carlos Tevez. And of course, they have such a big squad and a lot of players - they have about seven centre-forwards. It's amazing! I am not bothered whether Tevez plays or not - Manchester City's best player won't be playing. Adebayor is their star player, there is no question about that. He has scored in every game so far."
'This year it is a big mission of City's to play in the Champions League. They have not lost yet, so they will come to Old Trafford with a lot of confidence. It will be an amazing game and it is a big challenge. I hope we are ready.'
'I expect to have a good reception. While at United, I always gave my best and I had good relations with the fans. They know I did everything while at Old Trafford to try to score the goals that would help the team win matches, so I don't know why I should have a bad reception. What will I do if I score a goal? Well, I will be glad, but I don't think too much about that right now. The important thing is that Manchester City win the game. If I don't score, but we can get the three points, I will be very happy."
"We love the challenge of games like Sundays the main thing we have to do is go there and express ourselves. We have no fear against any side. We are in good shape mentality and we know that expectations levels will be huge. We have changed mentally. We are stronger now in that department. I think people can see evidence of that from the games we have won already this season and how we dug deep against Arsenal last weekend when they equalised..."
"The players not involved much so far have been fantastic. Martin, Nigel, Nedum and even Vladimir have given us great support off the pitch, it really has been second-to-none. They have all congratulated us when we do well, and when they have had their chance they have performed excellently. This place really is like a family now, everybody wants everybody else to do well whether selected or not."
Manchester united Team News:
Scholes is suspended after his red card at Spurs. Edwin Wanders Far and the perma injured Owen Hargreaves remain out.
It will be interesting to see who Taggart runs with up front. Berbaflop and The English Patient will be hoping to capitalise on any Rooney unrest after his substitution strop in Turkey.
united's 30 year old £30 million central defender Rio Ferdinand will face a late fitness test after picking up another injury.
Player to watch: Patrice Evra
Evra is fast becoming the rags' most influential and important player. Quick and strong on the overlap, he is likely to give Richards as tough a game as SWP or Weiss down City's right flank. He needs to be contained and pushed back.
Manchester CITY Team News:
Despite Taggart's ill informed 'big squad' claims, Sparky now has a standard 25 man senior squad, but there will be many of us wishing he'd held on to a few more strikers considering this weeks up front headaches!
You might have heard that Adebayor is banned and Santa Cruz, Robinho and Benjani are all injured.
But Carlos Tevez is said to be working incredibly hard to make this one. Don't rule out 'El Apache' yet.
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany is edging towards the bench with Michael Johnson remaining sidelined.
Stevie Ireland, though carrying a knock will be raring to go.
Player to watch: Craig Bellamy
Love him or loathe him, when the chips are down, Craig Bellamy fights for the cause as if his life depends upon it. He will absolutely relish the strong possibility that he could be City's sole available striker this weekend. Distrusting fans have been won over by Bellamy's professionalism and commitment since joining City. Having played in Midlands, Merseyside, Tyneside, East Anglian, Glasgow, London and now Manchester derbies, the Welsh skipper's experience and motivation is going to be crucial.
Match Facts & Stats
Considering City were very much the modern age rags' poor relations until last summer and have undergone a change of manager three times since the promotion under Mad Kev which heralded new found top flight stability, The Blues have held their own against their previously vastly well resourced bitter rivals.
WON: 9 November 2002 CITY 3-1 Rags
DRAW: 9 February 2003 Rags 1-1 CITY
LOST: December 2003 Rags 3-1 CITY
WON: 14 March 2004 CITY 4-1 Rags
LOST: 7 November 2004 Rags 1-0 CITY
LOST: 13 February 2005 CITY 0-2 Rags
DRAW: 10 September 2005 Rags 1-1 CITY
WON: 13 January 2006 CITY 3-1 Rags
LOST: 9 December 2006 Rags 3-1 CITY
LOST: 5 May 2007 CITY 0-1 Rags
WON: 19 August 2007 CITY 1-0 Rags
WON: 10 February 2008 Rags 1-2 CITY
LOST: 30 November 2008 CITY 0-1 Rags
LOST: 10 May 2009 Rags 2-0 CITY
CITY's seven season derby record: P:14 W:5 L:7 D:2 F:17 A:19
CITY's Points: 17 out of 42
The Rags Points: 23 out of 42
League Head To Head:
City 37 wins, united 55 wins, 48 draws.
City are after a seventh consecutive win in all competitions.
The Blues have gone in at half-time 1-0 up in all of our four Premier League games this campaign.
This is MCFC's best top-flight start since 1961-62. A win on Sunday would equal the five successive wins that started the 1912-13 season.
M Atkinson, Yorkshire Fresh back from the midweek reffing of FC Zurich v Real Madrid to take charge of his 4th Premier League game of the season. Reffed The Blues once last season. The 1-0 defeat at Stoke where City were outmuscled and SWP was retro-actively banned for 3 games for airing his leg whilst grounded in reaction to Rory Delap's provocation. Last season's record: Games: 40, Yellow Cards: 135, Red Cards: 11
This is always the one where the form book goes right out of the window. We saw two drab derbies last season but I'm expecting this one to crackle with excitement. Unbeaten City repeatedly afforded The Big Sky Four clubs far too much respect last season but the win over Arsenal suggested that Sparky's revitalised squad are made of sterner stuff. As long as The Blues continue to work hard and battle for each other and keep defending as a unit they stand a very good chance of taking the points at the swamp against a united side who no matter what Taggart says are not the same threat without the departed Ladyboy Riverdancer and Tev. Johnny On The Spot? rags 1 CITY 2
Wed 23 Sep, 8.00pm Eastlands Time: CITY v Fulham, Carling Cup.
Mon 28 Sep, 8.00pm Eastlands Time: CITY v West Ham, Premier League.