It’s the Manchester derby on Saturday and I’m always optimistic before these kinds of games. I think everyone connected to United is feeling upbeat and I hope that it won’t be the same embarrassing story as it was against Liverpool. I hope that the whole team has learned their lessons, looked at their mistakes and will correct things against City.
Both teams know each other really well, they know how they play and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has quite a good record against Guardiola, which can play on the minds of the players, opposition and managers. These kind of matches are about the result, even if you don’t play well. If United win 1-0, everybody at the club will be happy.
Liverpool defeat was embarrassing
Some of the goals against Liverpool were embarrassing. If the communication was better between the United players, and they improved their positioning, they could have prevented goals. This is a lesson United need to have learned by the time they play City. The communication between the defenders and the midfielders has to be perfect. That space between midfield and defence is where City are really good and looking for the ball, and it’s the space that Liverpool exploited.
When you play City or Liverpool it’s always a big game and of course you want to win. Now, after that defeat against Liverpool, everybody would like to make amends and get back on the right track. City play one way only: control the game, control the tempo, pass the ball, wait for the right moment, use the space. If United decide to go for a counter-attacking style, which they have the speedy players to do, they can cause City problems.
United mustn’t rely on Ronaldo’s brilliance
I’m looking forward to seeing Cristiano Ronaldo play a Manchester derby again. Everybody knows that, when the team needs him in a difficult situation, like against Atalanta both times, he can pop up and score a vital goal. But, if United rely on him and think that his magic will happen every game then it is a big mistake. Football is a team sport and everybody should communicate, cover themselves and be on their game from the first minute.
You can tell that Solskjaer is listening to what Ronaldo is saying after the games. The manager compared his star player to Michael Jordan the other day, which shows that the manager is expressing his gratitude, saying how lucky he is that Ronaldo is in the team and scoring important goals. But they can’t rely on him in every game.
At the moment, Ronaldo, with his goals, is making life more comfortable for everybody at United. It may be too much to say Ronaldo has saved Solskjaer’s job, but you can tell that Ole is grateful to him.
Don’t let Sancho become another Van de Beek
Sometimes a team wants to sign someone so badly. They push for him, spend a lot of money and then, when they get him, the beginning is hard as hell and the player doesn’t make an immediate impact. That’s the situation with Jadon Sancho at United and, hopefully, everything will soon fall into place for the England forward.
For the moment, the Sancho signing is not working out. It’s too early to judge whether he’ll succeed at the club or not, but if he continues not playing, or when he plays he doesn’t produce what everyone is expecting of him, then it is going to be the same story as Donny van de Beek. That would be sad because United wanted Sancho so badly and they spent a lot of money on him. The problem could be Sancho’s training methods, or maybe his communication with the manager isn’t the best, but United need to find a solution quickly.
You won’t be able to produce or you won’t be able to show what you can do if you don’t play. You’re not going to show what you can do in 10 or 15 minutes off the bench. Sancho has had games where he’s started and hasn’t produced, so United need to find the answer and the only way to do that is for him to play and get his confidence up.
He has to work hard and in the right way for him to show what he can do. It’s still early to judge, but time flies quick so he needs to start showing what he can do. He has the quality. Maybe he is low on confidence but that’s why he needs his teammates, his family and manager around him to let him know that he has lots of quality and his moment will come if he trains the right way.
I’d only make the City bench
Would I like to have played in this City side? I would probably be on the bench. They have a group of very talented players, but of course everybody enjoys playing in a team where brains come first, thinking about how the game is going to evolve and how it is going to go, to read it, to anticipate it and be two steps ahead of your opposition. This is what is very important in this City team and I love that style of football.
At City, honestly, everybody deserves credit because everybody knows what to do. Kyle Walker is a great example, I like him a lot because he has a great confidence in his ability. He knows he’s fast and that’s why sometimes he allows himself to be out of position, because he knows that he will cover with a sprint and catch a player. Pep Guardiola knows how to prepare them for every game and, despite last weekend’s defeat to Crystal Palace, it’s working for them again this season.
Why I screamed at Bernado Silva
Looking at the players Pep has at his disposal, I like Bernado Silva, I used to play with him in Monaco and sometimes I had to scream at him: “Pass the f*****g ball.” I’m pleased for him and since he has moved to City and started working under Pep he has taken his game to another level. You could see back then he was talented, I didn’t need to give him any lessons.
He’s a small player, his balance was there and that low centre of gravity means he can change position really quickly. Straight away I could see his talent in the first training session. Now at City he’s on a different stage, although I still see him holding onto the ball from time to time, so when I watch him I swear at the TV: “Give the f*****g ball quicker…” But he’s now on a different level because of his talent.
I never hide my admiration for Kevin De Bruyne. I also like Raheem Sterling, in my opinion he can be very, very dangerous and very sharp when he plays with confidence. He can make lots of chances for his teammates too.