Manchester United are preparing for one of the most important matches of the season. Or, let’s be completely honest, it could prove THE most important match of the season. Trailing eight points for Manchester City, Manchester United can almost halve that lead this Sunday if they manage to win at Old Trafford.
And not just that. Jose Mourinho’s players could make their city rivals stutter, make them feel more vulnerable. Suddenly, all those tightly won matches would become draws, not wins. Psychologically, this derby is even more than just three points.
On Friday, Mourinho talked about the Manchester Derby, feeling confident in his players’ ability.
“Manchester United Have Improved” – Mourinho
The manager did not want to say either of the two Manchester clubs will be the Premier League champions. He insisted this race will not be a two-horse one.
“No. I think we can [win the title] but I think other teams can be champions”, Mourinho persisted. Still, with Chelsea in third being 11 points behind the leaders, it could prove to be a too big a task for Antonio Conte and his players. However, should United end City’s 13 matches long Premier League winning streak, others, like Chelsea, could feel more confident about themselves.
“We are a better team than last year, no doubts about it. I think City is also a better team than last season”, Mourinho said when asked about the quality of the two teams.
Three Players Available, Two Players Out
The media were very interested in which players will be in contention for a place in the squad. Portuguese manager was quite clear about five Manchester United players.
“Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] is available, [Phil] Jones is available. [Marouane] Fellaini I have to wait until tomorrow, [Michael] Carrick is not available. [Eric] Bailly is not available. [Nemanja] Matic is injured but he plays”, claimed Mourinho.
That means we will see Matic in the centre of the park, probably next to Ander Herrera. The two of them could get a big task of stopping David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. The two Man City players are their main creative outlets and key players of the team.
Asked about the importance of the Manchester Derby in the city, Mourinho had an honest answer.
“I live a little bit isolated from society, I don’t feel it [the rivalry] so much, it’s about training ground, hotel. My day off after CSKA I went home so I really don’t have that communication. But I don’t need that to know a derby is something special for the people.
“For us is three points but for the people born in the city and feeling the colours in that good positive rivalry is a special match.”
Football Can Get Out Of Control
Mourinho was also asked about the game-plan for Sunday. However, he was quite prepared to avoid answering directly to that question.
“Football is unpredictable, you can try you can try, me as a manager I can try to define a game-plan, to work in a direction but football is unpredictable, we don’t know what can happen, there are so many things that are out of control that can totally transform the direction of the game. I wouldn’t risk saying what game we are going to have.”