Reds slickest in city under Dutch gold
How things can change!
Three weeks ago, Man United were struggling badly and all football fans were waiting for Man City to begin the charge that would put pressure on Chelsea at the summit of the Premier League.
But today, the Mancunian derby has a completely different look to it. It is United who are flying and the Sky Blues are the team in trouble.
How has it all turned around? Well, from United’s viewpoint the return from injury of Michael Carrick to anchor the midfield has been a massive boost.
As has switching Daley Blind to left-back and giving Ander Herrera the role Blind used to have on the left side of midfield.
All of a sudden, instead of going sideways and even backwards, all the time, the Red Devils are going forward – and with purpose.
Now if Angel Di Maria could find his mojo again, and Robin van Persie stuck in a goal or two, United would be set fair for the immediate future.
But rest assured that Louis van Gaal is not settling for what he has – Man United are working hard behind the scenes to get in new players for 2015/16.
German World Cup winner Mats
Hummels has already been mentioned, along with Dutch star Kevin Strootman and they will be working, too, on making sure that their Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea does not escape United’s clutches and head to Real Madrid or Barcelona as the new long-term goalkeeper for either club.
As an ex-Atletico player, De Gea may not have the option of going to Real, but United’s only interest will be in keeping their man and talks are ongoing about a new contract.
One way United may hold on to De Gea is to allow him an escape clause, which would say that if a club comes in for him and offers ‘X’ amount, he can talk to them.
Such a clause is commonplace in European contracts, but not so much in English football.
Irish star Damien Duff is one of the few in the Premier League who had one, during his time at Blackburn Rovers.
It was how Chelsea got the winger so easily at the time; they simply offered the exact amount of money in the contract and Blackburn would have been sued to high heaven if they had stopped Duffer talking to the London club
If it was a way of holding on to the keeper for two or three more years, putting that clause in would be well worth it for United.
It would also be a way for Van Gaal to further put his stamp on the club.
I notice he has got his way with the club’s planned pre-season tour for July and August of this year.
The team is going to the West Coast of America to play three matches there, while staying in the same hotel and training facilities all the time.
Last summer’s tour, when they criss-crossed the United States, playing matches in different time zones and different weather conditions, will not be repeated.
For City, even winning this game will not change too much about their season, which can most certainly be filed under ‘D’ for disappointing.
Yet again they came up short in the Champions League and, yet again, under a different manager, the Sky Blues failed to mount a proper defence of their Premier League crown.
They have the players to be a lot better than this, and the owners are not the patient type. Will they sack the manager, the one who steered them to the title last year? Maybe not.
Will they get rid of a few players who have not done the business this term? For me that is certainly on the cards, with new signings coming aboard.
Interestingly, manager Manuel
Pellegrini has already spoken about getting a ‘top-notch’ player, a ‘Galactico’ during the summer break.
That would tell me that the manager has been talking to his bosses about players he wants to sell, as well as players he wants to buy.
And they have to buy, having won just four games in all competitions since January is a serious collapse.
For me, it was losing to Barcelona, again, in the Champions League that seemed to knock the stuffing out their season and even if City can recover soon, it will be too late.
They are out of Europe, out of the cups, and retaining the Premier League title is now out of range too.
Beating the neighbours would only give their fans some solace towards the end of a season that has been a massive letdown.
However I suspect most Man City fans are really looking towards the summer and what the period may bring in the form of reinforcements. They need to add fresh faces to a squad that has been together now for most of the last three seasons and hasn’t kicked on.
I don’t see today’s game being a very cagey derby that ends scoreless or with just the one goal.
This will be an exciting one with lots of goals, for both teams’ major weaknesses remain at the back.
I can see both sides going for it and this ending at 3-2, with the Old
Trafford factor just swinging the verdict Man United’s way. Fasten your seat belts!