City have edge for derby with more rest: van Gaal

MOSCOW • Louis van Gaal believes Manchester United are at a disadvantage for Sunday's derby with Manchester City as his team return from Russia only this afternoon following their Champions League game with CSKA Moscow.

While Manuel Pellegrini's side had a home match - the visit of Sevilla yesterday - United played CSKA the same evening at the Arena Khimki in the Russian capital.

Van Gaal's side know victory in the upcoming 170th Manchester derby would allow them to leapfrog City, the Premier League leaders, by a point.

Of the travel to the Russian capital, which involved an eight-hour round trip, the manager said: "Every club at the top of the league has the same problems. But now Manchester City have a benefit because they are playing at home and that is a difference.

"The next time, we may have the benefit, you never know. But it is important that it is like that because you can have the benefit. You have the benefit of the recuperation.

"Manchester City don't have the travel we have. So they have more rest. There is nothing you can do. They have the benefit. We do a lot of things to try and help. We have cold baths, we have warm baths, less training sessions and practice so the freshness is good enough to beat City."

The derby takes place a day after Wayne Rooney's 30th birthday. But the United skipper insisted that he feels fitter than ever and has many more years left in him.

"I have been playing football a long time and for me, it (age) is a number," said the forward, who has come in for criticism for his lacklustre displays this season - his 14th Premier League campaign.

"In terms of me and football, I still feel I am young enough, and that I have a lot of years ahead of me.

"I have had no major muscle injuries and us players now have all the support of sports science, and all the other guys to help us in terms of preparation, training and games. So I think it's still a fairly young age and hopefully I have got a lot of years to come.

"I feel fitter and fresher than I ever have done really."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'City have edge for derby with more rest: van Gaal'. Print Edition | Subscribe