Women's Team

Morgan and Keating relish Sunday's men's derby

“If you can’t get yourself up for a derby, you’re never going to be motivated for a game.”

That’s what City defender Esme Morgan says the Manchester derby will mean to Pep Guardiola’s men ahead of its 188th iteration.

The England international, as well as fellow lifelong blue and team-mate Khiara Keating, have each looked ahead to Sunday’s showdown at the Etihad Stadium and explained what facing United means to them on a professional and personal level.

“We’re always so desperate to beat them,” Morgan explains.

“You want to win every game which is something you have to embody going into every game but with a derby you’re so desperate to have the bragging rights.

“I personally always feel better when I’ve got a front foot aggressive attitude and feel like I’m going into a battle because I’m always so much more alert and focused.

“A lot of other players prefer to be more chilled going into a game, [but] I always find that extra fire inside brings out the best in me though.”

It’s a similar story for Keating who, growing up in Ardwick, is fully aware of how a City vs. United clash has the potential to make the whole of Manchester stand still.

Having initially been picked up by our cross-city rivals at an early age, the goalkeeper made the switch to the Academy Stadium in 2015, going on to make her senior debut last season at the age of just 17.

Derby day proves to be a particularly important date in the diary for the Keating household though, given the family have divided allegiances between blue and red.

She said: “We’re split. Me, my mum and one of my sisters are City fans, and then the rest are United.

“On derby day we’re literally like: ‘you stay there, we’ll stay there’. Derby day is a big one in our house. The city is blue!”

“Football’s a big part of this city. It’s football-driven, you either support City or United. That sort of rivalry is brilliant to have in a city and it’s going to be such a big game.

“There’s always that banter [leading up to a derby], all those little bets as well you’d make as a kid too.”

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While Morgan was born and raised in Sheffield, she comes from a long line of City supporters, owning her first season ticket at just three years old.

Unsurprisingly, one particular win over United from the past stands out above the others.

“When Shaun Wright-Phillips scored that goal in the derby [City 4-1 United in 2004] and then did the robot, I used to score goals in the garden and copy the celebration,” the defender reflects.

“I didn’t used to be allowed to go them if the atmosphere was a bit rowdy, (but) I’ve got so many good memories of watching them and always look forward to playing in them as well.

“The atmosphere in the team and game is so exciting. You get a sense of tension, there’s a build-up in the air that something big is happening at the weekend.

“I’ll be on international camp, but I’ll be watching. I’m hoping for 3-1 City, and a Haaland hat-trick!”

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