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Manchester United will need a near perfect performance against Manchester City, says Dietmar Hamann

The Manchester derby is approaching quickly and every pundit, journalist and supporter is having their say on what will happen in the match. Right now, it would suggest that Manchester City will win, fresh from their first defeat of the season against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League, which means the bitter blues will fight back to gain some credit, keeping their cross-city rivals at bay in the Premier League. Other pundits feel that the Premier League title has already been won, which is a pretty pathetic thing to say based on only 15 matches being played so far.

Former Southampton striker Matt Le Tissier has suggested Jose Mourinho will be happy to let his side sit back and defend, stating that United were desperate to win the Premier League title this season and will do anything to ensure they beat City. Le Tissier also suggested Mourinho would be silly to try and match the attacking strength of City. Speaking to Premier League Daily and reported by Sky Sports, the former Southampton hitman said:

“I think the way City are at the moment he’d be foolish to try play against them as ‘you have an attack and we have an attack’. They have got the better attack, they’ve got the best attack in the Premier League by a mile in my opinion. I think there has to be a game plan involved [on Sunday] and if that means sitting deeper at home I don’t think Jose Mourinho will have a problem with doing that.”

Le Tissier has also spoken about Romelu Lukaku, suggesting the player was out of form in recent weeks, not scoring goals as regularly as he was, ending that run in the 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. The £75 million signing from Everton has been criticised by the media and so-called United supporters but the former Southampton man feels that the Belgian has done enough to warrant his price tag, saying:

“He’s got enough goals, perhaps not enough goals against those big boys but enough to justify the money that was laid out for him. However, with Ibrahimovic coming back it does put that little bit of extra pressure on him so last night’s goal (CSKA) was important because then he continued that run, if not then there’s pressure on Jose to put Ibrahimovic back in that team after what he achieved last season.”

Paul Pogba will miss the first Manchester derby of the season after his red card against Arsenal which resulted in the Frenchman being handed a three-match suspension, meaning he will miss the visit of Bournemouth and the trip to West Bromwich Albion also. Le Tissier feels that Pogba has lived up to his £89 million price tag, showing just what he was brought in to do and will be a massive miss for Mourinho’s side on Sunday. Le Tissier, concluding his thoughts about United and the derby, said:

“Last season because of that tag people were expecting so much more of him which perhaps he didn’t quite live up to, because of that bedding in season there. I’m expecting him to kick on this season, and he has done, He’s missed a few games through injury but there’s been a big difference in that United side with him in the team. It appeared that United were scoring so many goals more. You can see when he returned to the team they started scoring freely again. You look at that price tag now and think, ‘it’s not that bad really is it?'”

Former Manchester City defender Danny Mills has admitted that he would choose Jose Mourinho over Pep Guardiola to manage a big one-off match. Mourinho has been heckled by the media, pundits, and supporters for his defensive-minded game plan against some teams this season but Mills has stated he would choose the Portuguese ‘special one’ over the Catalan. Mourinho is as much as a genius as Guardiola but in a much different way. Mills, speaking on The Debate on Sky Sports, said:

“I look at Mourinho sometimes and think he’s equally as [much of a] genius [as Guardiola], but in a completely different way. He knows how to win one-off games. If the argument is: in a one-off game, who do you want as manager? I’d go with Mourinho, because he finds a way. Look at what he did at Porto, Inter, Chelsea time and time again. The players he has put together at Man Utd are enormous.

“It’s like Land of the Giants! They could be bully boys this weekend and look to physically steamroll City that way. Mourinho has done it at more clubs, but in slightly different ways. Their records are equally as good, and it’s very difficult to separate them. Mourinho sets up sometimes not to get beat, and it very rarely goes wrong for them.”

Last season, Guardiola saw his side finish fourth in the Premier League, but at the start of his second season, his side are unbeaten in domestic competition, suffering their first defeat at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. City have an eight-point lead over United after just 15 matches, which could fluctuate as the season progresses. Guardiola’s side have scored 46 goals and dropped just two points in the league this season. Mills is an admirer of Guardiola as he seeks to improve players gradually, whilst Mourinho uses ready-made players in big tactical matches. Mills said:

“You have to appreciate both styles. Pep’s football is brilliant to watch, and you have to understand it takes an awful lot of intensity and preparation on the training ground. I spoke to a few people behind the scenes at City a few weeks ago, and they said sometimes it takes him three or four attempts to get his message across to the players, how he wants them to play, drilling them time and time again.

“The work rate they put in, the fear that they have that if they don’t do it, they could get dropped. Not many managers can come in and do that. There is a subtle difference between the two; Pep will improve you as an individual, which will help you as a team. Whereas Mourinho’s recruitment is: ‘What do I need tactically to win this game? I’ll go and buy him, and him, and him.’ I’m not sure Mourinho has made players better like Pep has. Pep thinks about improving Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne, he has taken great players and made them better.”

Mills as suggested that this match could be a ‘free hit’ for Manchester City as a win would take them 11 points ahead of United, which could be hard for Mourinho’s side to claw back, putting them in a dangerous position for the second half of the season. If City lost, it would still leave them five points ahead of United with plenty of space to keep the gap between the two sides. However, if City lost or drew a number of matches during the busy festive period, it could give others in the league a chance to level the playing field, which could go in City’s favour also, especially if United fall to the pressure. Mills, concluding his thoughts, said:

“It’s almost a free hit for City. If City were to lose, it’s not the end of the world, such is the gap. If United were to lose, I think you’ve almost handed Man City the title, and that’s a huge difference in mentality. And Mourinho will know that, if United lose, they could almost wave goodbye to the title.”

Former Liverpool player Dietmar Hamann has stated that he believes United will have to put in a ‘near perfect’ performance against City on Sunday but also stated he was impressed with the way United beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates last weekend. Hamann thinks Jose Mourinho’s side have the big game credentials to pose a threat to City this weekend. When he was asked how you beat Manchester City, speaking to Sky Sports, Hamann said:

“You have to defend well, you have to take your chances and you must not give them any easy opportunities. I think you have to cut out mistakes, if one team at the moment can beat them I would be looking at Manchester United because in these big games they are usually very stubborn and very hard to break down.

“They got a great result at Arsenal, where they had probably been outplayed for most of the game and came away with a result. You can’t give (Kevin) De Bruyne any space, he is the heartbeat of everything good Manchester City is doing. Obviously Pogba is a big loss, but you need to play a near-perfect game, take your chances and they have a good goalkeeper so they should be OK.”

If United lose, as was touched on by Mills, United could be 11 points adrift of City on Sunday evening, which would give them a hell of a job to do in order to claw that back, also relying on other clubs to do them a favour in the title race, which is not something any manager wants to rely on. United will need to stand up and be counted when it matters and it will matter at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Concluding his thoughts on the big derby, Hamann said:

“I think over the last few years City have gone into the game as favourites and it’s the same this time around because they are going so strong in the league. It’s probably a game United can’t afford to lose because otherwise, the gap might become too big with the way City is going at the moment. I think it’s very hard to make up five or six points, let alone nine or 10.”

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