It’s Derby Day Eve and with excitement building for the 171st encounter between the Blues and the Reds, the pixelated and paper pages of the media are awash with previews, quotes and predictions.
Sunday’s showdown has been labelled a “do or die” clash for both sides with United manager Louis Van Gaal claiming that a loss for his side would end the Red’s dwindling hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification, whereas City could find themselves 15 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester at kick-off; Manuel Pellegrini knows a win is vital and could spark a late title charge.
The Manchester Evening News’ James Robson carries quotes from the City boss in his preview piece:
““Psychologically, it will be very important to try to win the title,” (Pellegrini) said. “We are just thinking about winning the next game and winning the title.
““It’s important against the teams that are near you in the table, to win those games, but nothing more than that.”
“Victory for City would see them move seven points clear of United.
““It’s a game of six points,” he said. “That would be an important difference, but it’s not finished after that.
““There is 24 points more to to play for so you never know what will happen.”
“While fans of both clubs would have expected Sunday’s derby to be a potential title decider - instead the rivals are well off the pace at the top of the table.
“It has seen Van Gaal come in for increasing criticism, with the Dutchman expected to lose his job at the end of the season.
“Pellegrini, meanwhile, will be replaced by Pep Guardiola in the summer as City look to step up to another level under the Bayern Munich manager.
“Pellegrini admits fans of both clubs have a right to expect more.
““You as a fan of a big team, you always expect to win the title,” he said. “It’s the same thing I talk about in terms of the mentality of the fans.
““They want to win. They deserve the best we can do.”
“Defeat would almost certainly seal Van Gaal’s fate - but Pellegrini believes the Dutchman can handle the pressure at Old Trafford.
““It’s not my duty what happens with the fans or Louis van Gaal,” he said. “We will play against a strong team with all their history and they will do all they can to win that game .
““I think that Louis van Gaal has a lot of experience. When you are managing big teams, you are expecting to receive criticism if you do not win.
““He has the experience to manage that situation. I always, and I am not talking about all managers, when you are in a bad moment you want to support him, but I don’t think he has any problems with the experience he has of managing the big teams in his career.
“"He is not maybe in a good moment but he knows how to manage.””
Elsewhere, it appears that City and Belgium manager Marc Wilmots are at odds as to the extent of Vincent Kompany’s injury.
“Kompany limped out of City’s Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday with a recurrence of his calf injury” writes the Daily Mail’s Chris Wheeler.
“It was the fourth time this season — and the 14th in his City career — that he has suffered the same type of injury, and the centre back faces an uncertain future as Pep Guardiola prepares to take over this summer.
“Wilmots claimed that Kompany, 29, will be out for up to two months, meaning he will still be able to report for international duty on May 16 — the day after the Premier League finishes — ahead of Euro 2016.
“‘Vincent Kompany suffered a calf tear, which means he will need five to eight weeks to return,’ Wilmots said. ‘I spoke to him on the phone. He has huge desire. We’ll see him on May 16.’
“City and Wilmots have differed over Kompany’s injury problems in the past, and Manuel Pellegrini responded by claiming his captain could be playing again within a month.
“He said: ‘We will see how he improves, but maybe in one month he can be ready, so, he will play again (this season).
“‘It’s important the way he improves in the first two weeks if he can start working. Our first thoughts are that maybe in one month he can be ready.’
“Pellegrini fell out with Wilmots in October, when the Belgium boss fielded Kompany in a qualifier against Israel straight after he had returned from a four-week lay-off.
“Kompany’s central defensive partner Nicolas Otamendi also came off against Kiev with a dead leg, and City will make a late call on his fitness before deciding if he can play in tomorrow’s Manchester derby at the Etihad.
“Pellegrini added: ‘We’ll see tomorrow (Saturday). Nico is running but it’s a risk if he takes another kick in the same leg. We’ll assess him on Saturday and decide.’
“Kompany will miss City’s Champions League quarter-final ties against Paris Saint-Germain but could feasibly return for the semis or final.
“Speaking after his team were drawn with PSG on Friday, Pellegrini was pleased not to be playing Barcelona for the third year in a row but had little to say about avoiding Bayern Munich and his successor Guardiola.
“He added: ‘It is a difficult draw as always. The eight best teams of Europe is always a difficult draw. Barcelona are the best team in Europe, all the others are the same.
“‘Maybe one team can have less names than another, but if they are in the same stage they are an important team. You can’t have an easy draw.’”
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Keep checking mcfc.co.uk for all the latest news and previews ahead of the 171st Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.