Who do you think will win on Sunday, United or City?
Man City will beat Man United, without a doubt. They’ve really got their hunger back, they are desperate to win every single game between now and the end of the season. They’ve lost to United too many times for their liking this season.
Guardiola, last time City went to Old Trafford in the Cup, gave Manchester United and Ole Solskjær an absolute footballing lesson in the first half, and Guardiola was furious they didn’t win that game by four or five goals, it should have been over at half time.
I think City will go there with the same sort of attitude after winning the Cup Final and do exactly the same. It will be a comfortable win for City.
Which Man City player do you think will decide the outcome of the game, or dictate it?
Kevin De Bruyne will be very important for City against United. He was rested for the Cup Final, which seemed a very strange decision to make, but obviously City went on to win it, so you can’t argue with Guardiola. Kevin, I think he’s just the best midfield player in the world, hes got everything about him.
When he gets on the ball he dictates play, his range of passing is exceptional. We all talk about how good Paul Scholes was at Manchester United, I think he Is up there with that. He is box the box, and just superb and if he is on song, United have to be very, very careful.
How impressive is Citys record of winning eight of the last nine domestic competitions?
City’s record of winning eight of the last nine domestic competitions is incredible. To win trophy after trophy, we all talk about it, the League is the hardest thing to win. Across 38 games, thats the standard to set, but to win, even the League Cup three times running is incredible. With a Cup competition, you need one bad decision, you need one bad game and you’re out of it. So, to win it once is OK, to win it three times in a row is absolutely exceptional, and I think it just goes to show Guardiolas thirst for winning, and his thirst for trophies. It probably rivals, Mourinho and Sir Alex Fergusons.
How much does Pep need to win the Champions League to be considered up there with the great managers?
For Guardiola to be put alongside the great managers, he needs to win the Champions League at different clubs, that is where he needs to be. At the moment, he’s labelled as only winning the Champions League at Barcelona, with that incredible side that he had, with Messi in it. He was brought in to win the Champions League for Manchester City, so to be considered as good as the likes of Ancelotti, he needs to win it again, but away from Barcelona.
How much investment is needed his summer, for City to try and launch an assault on Liverpool?
Man City have got to address the left-back situation this summer. If Zinchenko stays fit thats fine, but Mendy has not been good enough in that position. They need two centre-backs in. Fernandinho has been brilliant dropping in, but he clearly doesnt fancy John Stones. Laporte is injured, is he going to come back from that, so you need one outstanding centre-half, and one for cover, just in case something happens to Laporte. You’ve then got cover, Fernandinho can play in midfield.
The long-term problem, I feel, is Sergio Aguero, who do you get in? He can’t go on forever, he can’t keep being great season after season. And he picks up niggles from time to time, he takes several whacks.
Gabriel Jesus is good but hes just not Aguero, he is just not that out and out goal scorer like Aguero is. You have to remember, Guardiola was tempted to get rid of Aguero, because he wasn’t going to play in the style that he wanted him to. So, I think centre-back is an absolute must, they need probably two decent centre-halves, and maybe a supplementary number nine.
If Citys ban from the Champions League is confirmed, do you think they can retain the services of people like De Bruyne and Sterling?
If City are banned for two years, it is going to be very interesting. There are senior players in there thinking, well its going to be three years until we win, or have a possible chance of winning the Champions League again.
What happens in that two-year period when they’re not in it, then you’ve got to go into that third season. I think its tough, because there will be players that sort of think, well hang on a minute, what about bonuses, how are their contracts loaded towards the Champions League, bearing in mind this is the big one for Manchester City.
The Champions League is what they want to win. Aguero will be mid 30s by the time the ban is over. Even De Bruyne will be getting into his 30s at that stage, so two or three years on, its going to be a completely different Manchester City side.
Two years is a long time to miss out on that. Does Guardiola stay as well? A two-year ban to miss a European competition is absolutely massive. If it gets reduced to maybe one year, then I think they’ll retain a lot of those players. But two years, and then obviously that third season where they’ve got to win it, I think that is going to be very, very difficult.
Does Phil Foden need to leave City to progress to the next level?
I said last season Phil Foden that he needs to start 15 games this season. Guardiola has said how he is one of the best young players he has ever seen play but I can’t remember where he started three games in a row. He has not started enough Premier League games, there has been games where you’re thinking come on, give him a chance, let him play.
He has played in Cup games; hes played in the odd Champions League game. At the moment I feel for him, because he has got this incredible potential, we’ve seen how good he can be, in fits and starts. But thats all it is. We need to see him in a run of 10 games in a row, 15 games to see if he manages that, how does he deal with that, is he going to be as good as the likes of De Bruyne going forward?
I think Foden needs to have a serious word with the manager and say look, if I am not going to start 15, 20 games next season in the League, I need to get myself out on loan. Because he is being left behind in terms of international development, because all his peers, all those players that he played with in the Under 18s, the Under 20s, Under 21s, they’re now getting senior caps. And they’re going to go to Euros, and they are going to go to World Cups, so at the moment its still all potential, and I feel sorry for him, that he is in such a good squad but he is just not getting enough games.
Will City be looking at signing Jadon Sancho and will he be put off by the fact players like Phil Foden aren’t getting games at City?
With Jadon Sancho, you look at Leroy Sane coming back from injury as well, he’s started training and he is an outstanding talent. He’s still 19, 20 and compared with Sancho, they are very similar.
I do think that Englands team will be Sterling on one side, and Sancho on the other. He is an outstanding talent but he will want to play. And that is why he went to Dortmund in the first place, theres a lot of players going to Germany, going to the likes of Dortmund and thinking well look, I am going to progress as a young player because I am going to get game time, and I am going to play week in, week out, its going to be competitive and Im going to learn an awful lot. As a player, the last thing you want to do, if you have played a full couple of seasons, you do not want to come and sit on the bench. It is absolutely demoralising.
City have got to get their recruitment right in the summer, but there will be players thinking; unless I am going there to play, then maybe I will go elsewhere.
Solskjeers record against the top six is impressive, is there a chance he can come out on top again?
There is always a chance in a two-horse race that United can come out on top but I fear that City will come out at 100 mile an hour and pop the ball around so quickly that you hardly see it. And I just hope that after 20 minutes its 0-0 or United are up because if City start getting their tails up and score early, it could be a cricket score.
Will a United win all but confirm a position in the Champions League next season?
Even if United win, I don’t think that it will confirm their place in next season’s Champions League spots. There is a long way to go and a couple of twists and turns yet. I think Chelsea have still got a big say in it, Wolves, Sheffield United will want a say in it. We have seen United’s form this season is good against the big six, but not so consistent against the rest. So, it is a huge game and a huge three points to play for.
Which Man United player do you think will decide the outcome of the game, or dictate it?
Bruno Fernandes, the man of the moment, will be so important for United against City. It’s never easy to come in in the January window as it is, and to come in and to make the impact he has, I think speaks wonders about him. So, I think he is going to be Uniteds main man.
Should David De Gea start in goal after last weeks performance against Everton?
David De Gea has still got to start in goal against City. He is still one of the worlds best goalkeepers, I think you just word him up and tell him to get a move on and not to make the same mistake again. He still pulled off a couple of great saves after he made the mistake, so you have got to stick with him.
United are right in the mix with for a top four finish, how big an achievement do you think it will be securing Champions League football for Ole?
If Untied can finish in the Champions League places this year, I think it will be a huge achievement for Solskjaer but I think it is probably what the board and what the managers set out to achieve at the start of the season. But I have been watching the inconsistencies, and with the squad they have, the lack of centre-forwards, letting Lukaku and Sanchez go, and a few injuries to the likes of Pogba and Bailey - it will be a massive achievement.
Should United have come out and backed Solskjær for the next four or five years to stop all the Pochettino whispering? Has it hindered Ole?
I dont know whether the Pochettino rumours have hindered things for Ole. When you are at a club like United, and you go through bad spells, there is always other managers names being thrown at you, you are always under pressure if you are not winning football matches. So, I dont think that is any different for Ole than it is for anybody else.
Could the board have done something else and supported him a little bit more, possibly, but I dont think they have ever come out and said his jobs under threat, and they have never entertained any of the Pochettino news, so, think it is just the press making something out of nothing really.
Are United favourites to win the Europa League?
I would say that Man United are favourites to win the Europa League. There are still some decent teams in there but I think you would have to say that they have got to be the favourites. They could do with winning it really because its looking dicey whether they are going to get top four.
What have United got to do, and how much do they need to invest, to be talked about when it comes to winning the title? How far away are they?
United look miles away from winning the title. I am not sure the manager is the man for the job, I am not sure recruitment this summer can really get them as close as they need to be.
I think recruitment can help them get maybe into the top four, I am not sure it will get them closer to Man City and Liverpool. They need another centre-forward. I think Martial is a little bit too flimsy and a bit too inconsistent for me. Rashford is brilliant on his day, yet is still learning his trade in his position. Defensively they could probably do with another strong centre-half alongside Maguire. I think they could do with Pogba staying, because I still think that on his day, he is one of the worlds best in what he creates and what he scores is second to none as a midfielder.
And then maybe a wide player, I think James has come in from Swansea, and he is still not the finished article, he is still a little bit raw. Greenwood is still a little bit young, and a little bit lightweight. So, I think a few more creative attacking options.
What do you make of De Geas future at Manchester United, particularly after the rickets against Everton?
Goalkeepers always make rickets, I just think when you’re at one of the biggest clubs in the world and you are classed as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it just gets looked at even more closely, more scrutinised.
I still think De Gea will be at United for another couple of years, I think all the rumours of Real Madrid have gone away since he signed his contract. I dont think that will be somewhere that they are prioritising during the close season.
What do you think of Maguire this season, has he shone in the same sort of like and ilk as Van Dijk yet?
I do not think Maguire’s quite as classy and as Rolls Royce as Van Dijk is but I certainly think he has bolstered the Man United defence up; I think he has done his job; hes probably not scored as many goals as he would have liked to from set pieces but I think he has shored up the defence.
I do not think defensively Man United have been that bad this season, I just think they have been inconsistent, and not won games against lower down teams and they have lost the odd game one nil here and there, they have drawn a couple 1-1 and I think it has been too close against the lower half teams in the table.
It has been reported that United are in the box seat to sign Jack Grealish. Can Grealish take United to a different level?
Jack Grealish is a class act. I love watching him play, I think he is fantastic on the ball, his vision and awareness are absolutely second to none. And I am guessing he would be there to replace Pogba. If Grealish comes and they are playing Fernandes, there is no room in the team really for someone like Pogba, I think that is probably a little bit too many creative players.
I think Grealish would do great at United; I think at the moment, he can be very much singled out as the main attacking threat for Villa, and you can get a player or two on him all the time. At United, with a couple more better players around him, I think he will get a little bit more freedom, a little bit more space to create and do his stuff. So I think he will be a great addition to the squad.
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