Manchester United v Manchester City: David Moyes warns Manuel Pellegrini - United's time to be the top dogs will come again

The sides meet at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight

David Moyes has responded to Manuel Pellegrini’s declaration that Manchester City are the top club in the city, warning ahead of tonight’s derby that the Chilean risks hubris and that Manchester United’s time will come again.

United go into the meeting 12 points adrift of their rivals in the Premier League - a level of superiority City have not enjoyed over United on a derby day for 36 years - and City midfielder Fernandinho  stoked the fires by declaring he was surprised how easy to beat a poor United had been earlier this season.

But United manager Moyes offered the kind of retort to his counterpart Pellegrini's observation the club's fans will be looking for, after consecutive wins which offer fragile signs of hope. "Well, Manchester United had lots and lots of seasons of domination," Moyes said when questioned about comments Pellegrini first made last month and on which he elaborated yesterday.

"I don't think I would have turned round and said that we were the only club in Manchester because football does change. It goes in cycles."

 

United were 4-0 behind in 50 minutes at the Etihad Stadium in September, leading Fernandinho to reflect now that they were unexpectedly poor. "Of course I was [surprised]," he said. "It's a club with a lot of history, with very good players. They were the champions - so, yes, I was surprised at how badly they played that day and how easily we won."

The Brazilian's claim that City are fighting for the title now while United are simply fighting to restore some pride tonight was a statement of fact. "They are maybe just fighting for honour now," he said.

It is in the midfield area that the gulfs between the squad strengths have most graphically revealed themselves this season. United's midfielders have contributed just two goals compared to nearly 40 scored by their City counterparts.

Read more: Moyes must show that he can beat the elite
Carrick or Fellaini could fill-in amid defender crisis
Rooney wears arm band well
Manchester United v Manchester City match preview

Pellegrini stated that the midfield was a key point of comparison between the two sides. "Maybe they are stronger and we are more technical," he said, though Fernandinho also expressed surprise that this area of the field had not delivered more goals for United.

"It does surprise me because they have good midfielders," he said. "But we can't go thinking that their midfielders won't score against us. We need to be careful. It will be better if we go there and score at least two goals. We will be looking to attack them and play our normal game against them." City would make the trip across Manchester "expecting to win," Fernandinho added.

Moyes said he had been forced to deal with his defender Chris Smalling, who was pictured dancing a jig outside a nightclub at 3.15 last Saturday morning, having been ruled out of the trip to West Ham United that day with a hamstring injury.

"I've dealt with it and I've spoken to Chris. That would be as much as I would want to say on it," said Moyes, refusing to disclose how long Smalling - who will miss tonight's game - will be out of contention for United.

While Nemanja Vidic is suspended, Moyes has Rio Ferdinand fit to play tonight alongside Phil Jones. His other option in central defence, Jonny Evans, has been struggling with a calf injury and has not played since the defeat at Stoke seven weeks ago. Moyes said he would deploy the midfielders Michael Carrick or Marouane Fellaini at centre-back if he had to.

Pellegrini, who has only Sergio Aguero and Matija Nastasic missing, said he again wanted to inflict on United what City had delivered against them at the Etihad in September. "We will try to play in the same way. We are the same team and we'll try," he said, though his side have had to rely less heavily lately on Alvaro Negredo, who has not scored since a prolific run ended abruptly in January. "For different things you always have different moments in a season. I trust in Alvaro and I'm sure he will return to his normal performances."

Tonight's game brings its own immense pressures for Pellegrini. His side exited two tournaments in three days earlier this month, and now have a 19-day Premier League period in which they face United, Arsenal on Saturday and Liverpool at Anfield two weeks on Sunday.

The City midfielder Yaya Touré has said that the team need to take a full complement of 30 points from their remaining 10 games to take the title.

"If you say we lose the game tomorrow and win the title, I prefer to win the title but we can do both things," Pellegrini said. "When you have two important teams in the same city you always want to be the best team. We are not just fighting against Manchester United. In some ways it doesn't matter.

"I think this club is trying to work in the last four years to reduce the difference we have against important teams - against Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal. The biggest teams in England and in Europe as well. But it's just four years working so we must continue trying to improve and reduce the difference."

Of the struggles faced by his opposite number in the city, Pellegrini reflected: "It is not my duty to analyse what David Moyes has done in his season at Manchester United. Of course, all the other clubs expected United would be in the first position in the table. They are not - but they continue to be a difficult team."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue