Old Trafford no longer a 'scary' place to go to, says Pep

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is expecting “the best Manchester United” when the two teams face off at Old Trafford today.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is expecting “the best Manchester United” when the two teams face off at Old Trafford today. PHOTO: DPA

LONDON • Pep Guardiola believes that Manchester United have lost the fear factor and that his Manchester City side are not afraid to go to Old Trafford any more in recent years.

For City, the Premier League title is at stake with Guardiola's men needing to win their remaining four matches to be sure of becoming the first side since United a decade ago to retain the title.

Those days of dominance are long gone for the Red Devils with just a place in the top four and Champions League qualification their target this season.

United, sixth in the standings, will also have to restore some sense of pride after a 4-0 thrashing at Everton last Sunday.

Ahead of today's Manchester derby in the Premier League, Guardiola said: "This club (City) in the last decade grew a lot, it's not scary any more to go to Old Trafford, but we have to play at our best.

"Four games left and we have to win our four games to retain the title. It is not an easy place to go but, at the same time, it is a nice place to go.

"We know exactly what we have to do and we're going to go there to do a big game.

"It's true that we've done better than them over the last three years, but it is about winning titles, not beating United."

 
 
 

Should City fail to win at Old Trafford, Liverpool - historically United's fiercest rivals - will be just three games away from a first league title in 29 years.

The Reds have already set their highest ever points tally in the Premier League era of 88 to lead City by two points.

However, Guardiola's men have a game in hand and, should they move top once more with a win today, they would just need to see off Burnley, Leicester and Brighton to guarantee the title.

City could not have picked a better possible time to face United, but Guardiola also insisted that he is not getting carried away by their rivals' poor form of late.

"I expect the best United tomorrow, I am sure. They are proud. Prepare the game as always, their strong points, their weak points and try to win the game," the City manager added.

"It is a derby and, all the times we play against United, the derbies are always special games and the players do their best for the fans and the club."

The Spaniard also expressed his support for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, saying that managers do not have it easy when things do not go their way.

"I am close to Solskjaer, I understand his position perfectly," he added. "I understand his position because it happens to all the managers around the world.

"It is the reality, we have to accept it. If not, stay at home. I understand him perfectly and I am with him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline 'Old Trafford no longer a 'scary' place to go to, says Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe