Pep Guardiola feels Manchester United are still in the title race, but does not believe the Manchester derby is the biggest game of the season.
Manchester City host United on Sunday, with Guardiola’s side top of the Premier League table after making an unbeaten start to their title defence.
United finished second behind City last term – albeit lagging 19 points adrift of the record-breaking champions – but they are seventh going into the weekend’s clash.
The title race has been billed as a three-team affair with Chelsea and Liverpool, both three points behind City, also yet to taste defeat in the league.
Jose Mourinho has said, meanwhile, United should not be considered contenders to win the league until they can climb back into the Champions League qualification places.
But Guardiola claimed United, who have secured comeback wins in their last two matches against Bournemouth and Juventus, cannot be discounted from the fight for top spot.
“No, no, no,” Guardiola said when asked if Sunday’s meeting was the biggest game of the season for City. “Of course games against contenders are special because if you win, they don’t win, but it’s November so maybe the game at Old Trafford [in March] will be more important.
“Of course we are on a good run, United as well, it will be like all the games so tight, no team controls the game for 90 minutes and we have to defend well and attack like we have in the last games.
“All the derbies are special, I think in Spain there’s more noise [in the media] than here, before the game especially, but it’s always special for everybody.
“In our history of Manchester City it’s hard to beat United and they beat us more times but it’s a good rivalry and a good chance for three points. We will try especially to have a good game.
“They are not out of the race, not in November it’s impossible, no way. They can recover well like 2-0 v Newcastle, big club, big mentality. Since we arrive we try to convince to never give up and try again and again it’s why in the last month we didn’t lose two or three in a row, we are consistent.
“But United have it themselves, with their history behind them, it’s always there. November, five or six strong teams, one issue in March and April but now everything is open, football changes in one week or two weeks.”
The boss knows how important the #ManchesterDerby is to the fans, but plays down its importance to the early make-up of the league table.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 9, 2018
Despite City romping to the title last season their campaign was checked by a home loss to United in April, Guardiola’s men surrendering a 2-0 lead to collapse following a Paul Pogba double in a game in which victory would have secured the league on the day.
“We lost [in April], the last two derbies here we were not able to win here but we won at Old Trafford,” former Bayern Munich head coach Guardiola added.
“I lived in Barcelona for many years and know special derbies against Real Madrid, and in Germany against Borussia Dortmund like this weekend – it’s special, I know that, but we have to be focused.
“I am not living outside so I know it’s important. We played quite well [in April] but lost, but we were champions. Three points, three points, three points, so we’re champions, the target, we did it.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!