Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United are “closing the gap slightly” on Manchester City following their dramatic derby win, but feels the gulf between the clubs is “still huge”.
United came from behind to take the derby spoils after a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford, where Jack Grealish’s header was cancelled out by a quickfire double from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
Erik ten Hag’s side closed the gap on their second-placed neighbours to a single point, where they are now just six behind leaders Arsenal.
Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles and the Champions League with United, believes his former club still have a long way to go before matching their rivals, however.
“They’re closing the gap slightly, but there’s still a major way to go,” Ferdinand said in his role as a BT Sport pundit. “I think the gulf between the clubs is still huge.
“Don’t let this result take that away or let things become unrealistic. Man United have still got a way to go, but they’re on the right road now. I felt something in this ground today that I haven’t felt for a very long time.
“There was a belief, there was a connection between the players on the pitch and the fans again, because there’s a committed team out there who are willing to fight, who won’t fold under pressure, who won’t fold when there’s a bad spell in the game.
“That can only be good for the future of this team. The manager has to have huge compliments right now because he’s building a team that are up for the fight.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 14, 2023
Meanwhile, Paul Scholes – an 11-time Premier League winner at Old Trafford – feels United demonstrated their title credentials, but he knows the most important stage of the season is still to come.
“We’ve learned that United can beat a big team when the pressure is on, when they needed to,” he said. “You asked before if they’re in the title race – I think you have to say they are.
“If they keep people fit, they’re one point behind City now. City, to me, are still the favourites, they’re still the best team in this league. It’s okay winning games now, but it’s March, April time when it’s so hard to win those games.
“Arsenal are doing really well, they look a really good team. Injuries could affect them, and they’re inexperienced. They’ve got a manager who hasn’t won a league title, players who haven’t won trophies really.
“There are 20, 21 games to go. There’s so far to go – this could change by February.”
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