Manchester United keeper Anders Lindegaard plays down derby significance

 

Manchester United keeper Anders Lindegaard believes it is far too early to build Sunday's derby clash with City at Old Trafford into a title decider.

With both clubs blazing a trail at the top of the Premier League, this weekend's fixture has been eagerly anticipated for weeks.

And as Champions League commitments are now out of the way, the red and blue halves of a divided city can give their full attention to one of the most important derby encounters for a long time.

Yet that statement glosses over the fact that City and United have met in major cup semi-finals in each of the last two years, which were hardly insignificant.

And Lindegaard was possibly also looking back on the rather scrappy manner in which Sir Alex Ferguson's team disposed of the relatively weak Romanian champions Otelul Galati last night as he reflected on the danger of believing this season's spoils will be decided purely by the men based in Manchester.

"Four games ago I would have said it will be between City and United," said the Denmark international.

"But Chelsea seem to be going well as well so you can't say it is just about United and City now. It is too early."

Not that Lindegaard lacks respect for Roberto Mancini's squad. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"City have looked very good," he said.

"They have quality players in all positions and two for each one, just like us.

"There is no doubt it is going to be a tight race this year."

Not that he expects the hype to extend to United's Carrington training ground.

Although his own experiences were at a much lower level in Denmark and Norway, the thing which struck Lindegaard when he joined from Aalesunds in January was the focus Ferguson and his staff devote to every game.

So, if it were not for the dressing room chatter and information gleaned from the media, no-one would actually know City were coming to town.

"One of the things that impressed me most when I came to United is that every game is handled the same way," he said.

"It doesn't matter whether it is Crawley at home or Chelsea away. It has always been very serious.

"It seems like one of the cornerstones of this club is to always take your opponent seriously.

"It is going to be a normal build-up to the City game, as it would be with any other."

However, Lindegaard is aware that, barring an unexpected injury to David de Gea, he will start Sunday's game on the bench.

The 27-year-old was making his third appearance of the season last night, which is not too bad considering Ben Amos was in goal for the Carling Cup win at Leeds.

He wants more of course and has amusingly declared he did not join United "to pick my nose" on more than one occasion during his time in the Premier League so far.

Lindegaard is adopting a fairly level-headed approach to his situation though, insisting he is not bedevilled by anxiety about having to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way.

"I don't feel under pressure," he said.

"Dealing with stuff like that is a massive thing at Manchester United.

"It is a big part of the game, not only because I am a goalkeeper but also as it is a constant at clubs of this size.

"We always have to win.

"I prepare the same, whether it is a training game in the United States or a Champions League game in Romania or Portugal. That is part of the job of being a goalkeeper.

"One of the important steps to success is always to be focused and concentrated."

United may not find out until next week what the final punishment for Nemanja Vidic's red card will be.

Just as was the case with Wayne Rooney and England, the governing body has discretionary powers.

As the second-half dismissal was harsh anyway, it does seem likely Vidic will escape with a single game suspension, that would rule him out of the return meeting with Otelul at Old Trafford on November 2.

PA

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