The City is Yours
History is in the Making for Manchester City
It’s the week Manchester City have been waiting for. It’s the most crucial week in the club's history. Sure the Sky Blues have had their recent successes of cup and league wins, but never has so much been at stake. They have the chance to propel themselves toward the semi finals of the Champions League, and with the prospect of winning the Premier League title in a match against their cross town neighbours at the Etihad this weekend, it’s hard to think of a more poignant and crucial moment for the Blue half of Manchester.
City go into the game top of the table, and an eye-watering 16 points ahead of United who sit in second place. Pep Guardiola has said he’ll field a weakened team for the Manchester derby. The very fact that he can make such a statement and it doesn’t make headlines, or even raise an eyebrow, shows how accepted and stark the gulf between the two Manchester sides has become.
"Guardiola’s rivalry with Mourinho could play a factor"
Will pragmatism prevail? If City manage to build a comprehensive lead and force themselves into a comfortable position after the first game of a two-legged European tie against Liverpool, Guardiola’s rivalry with José Mourinho could play a factor. Until now Mourinho hasn’t engaged in mind games with his opponent. Perhaps even the Special One understands it wouldn’t be wise to poke the bear just now, and fancies his chances against a second string City side.
“His own meek acceptance is unlikely to endear him to United fans”
Mou’s only comment last weekend was to downplay his own interest in the tie, barking ‘City is not important for me, [what is] important for me is that since the moment we left the first position and we went to second we stayed there for the whole of the season, [so] we deserve to finish second’. His own meek acceptance of the team's current situation follows disparaging remarks he made after United crashed out of the Champions League to Sevilla, where he alluded to the Old Trafford outfit’s poor record in the Champions League. These additional comments are unlikely to endear him to United fans.
“City have the spotlight, and for all the right reasons”
The rivalry between United and City has long festered deep, but the heat has been turned up in recent years. Eric Cantona once famously said of the Manchester derby that if your team wins ‘the city belongs to you’, but for once, this won’t be the case on Saturday evening. If United win they’ll delay City’s inevitable charge towards the Premier League title. They’ll win the battle, but not the war. And they’ll do it against a weakened team, that will further dull the Reds’ delight. The simple fact is, City have the spotlight, and for all the right reasons, a fact that in itself will gnaw away at the Reds. Maybe United fans and Mourinho finally have one thing in common - they’re both living in the shadows of a superior foe.