Tag Archives: Sir Alex Ferguson

Can Van Persie Follow In The Footsteps Of Cantona At United?

Eric-Cantona

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson recently compared Dutch striker Robin van Persie with United legend Eric Cantona.

Ferguson told Eurosport-Yahoo:

“He has a similar profile to Eric in terms of age and maturity. He came from one big club to another big club and he is an established international. All these things in his profile suited us perfectly.”

Van Persie has carried his outstanding form from Arsenal to his new club who are currently at the top of the Premier League table with a six-point lead over rivals Manchester City. Whilst, he has scored 15 goals already this season in all competitions, the £24 million summer signing is still someway away from achieving the success of Cantona. But the Dutchman looks likely to give it his best shot. He is only 10 goals off Cantona’s tally for his first full season at United back in 1993/94. The Red Devils won the league that season, along with the FA Cup and the Frenchman was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Cantona was 27 when he signed for the Old Trafford club from their fierce rivals, Leeds United for a fee of £1.2 million, but, at that time, it was considered a marquee signing by Ferguson. In his 5 years at the club, Cantona won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups. Van Persie signed a four-year contract with club this summer, he will be around 33 upon its expiry and well into the twilight of his career. For him to follow in the footsteps of Cantona, United would have to win the next four successive league campaigns – including the current one – and two FA Cups but for that Van Persie will have to remain fit.

Last season at Arsenal the Dutchman almost doubled the United legend’s best goal-tally in a season and he looks set to repeat it this term for United. There are some questions whether he can keep up with the pace and power of the Premier League as he enters his thirties, but there are no doubts that he has the class and quality to be a top performer for the remainder of his contract.

One thing Van Persie will never be able to emulate is the impact Cantona had, not only on Manchester United, but also on the Premier League and the world of football. The boldness and charisma of ‘King Eric’ is unmatched in football today and perhaps we may not see another Cantona for a very long time.

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Teams Manchester United and Arsenal Want To Avoid In The Champions League Round Of 16

Arsenal-United-ucl

Arsene Wenger recently said it didn’t matter if his side finish second in their group, but given the difference between the sides Arsenal and Manchester United might draw, he may have to think again.

As everyone knows, if you want to win tournaments, you are going to face the best teams at some stage of the tournament. With Arsenal finishing second in their group, they now are more than likely to face a tricky first round in the knockout stages. While, Manchester United finished top of their group and although there are a couple of teams they will want to avoid, they will likely get a favourable draw.

Manchester United

For United, Real Madrid are clearly the ones to avoid, with Jose Mourinho’s men second in their group by Borussia Dortmund. As the Portuguese himself said, the past two times his side have finished second in their group they have gone on to win the Champions League, and with the quality they have in their squad, they are still one of the favourites to win the tournament. The other side United will be keen to avoid is Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been very impressive this season and knocked Chelsea out.

The other four teams that Manchester United could draw pose less threat than the above two. Milan are improving but they don’t look like they will be able to compete in Europe this year. Porto are tricky, but United should be able to beat them, and the same goes for Valencia. Celtic could be interesting given it will be the ‘Battle of Britain’ and their performances against Barcelona were incredible, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would be expected to win comfortably.

Arsenal

While United are looking to avoid only two teams, the Gunners really have only one favourable draw and that’s Malaga. The Spanish side’s excellent start has fallen away a little bit in the league, and with their inexperience in the Champions League you would think Arsenal would be able to beat them. The rest of the sides look dangerous.

PSG like Malaga are inexperienced in Europe, but have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a number of other talent players. They are probably the second best draw available. Then there is Juventus and Dortmund, winners over Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Shakhtar already, and they are not the real big guns of Europe. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are rightly considered amongst the favourites for the tournament, and if Wenger’s side pick either name, it will be very tough to see them making the last eight.

So, who do you want, and who you don’t want?

A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

Revealed – Manchester United Have The Best Youth Academy In England

danny-tom

According to research by Sporting Intelligence, Manchester United have the best youth academy having produce more first-team players for club in Europe’s top 5 leagues than any other team in England.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are ranked fifth in the world behind the likes of Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Real Madrid and Stade Rennais. Twenty of the twenty-four players who have graduated from the Old Trafford academy have gone on to play in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 or the Serie A.

Nine of the twenty-four players produced are still at United ( including Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck), and the remaining 15 playing elsewhere include the likes of Phil Neville (Everton), Kieran Richardson (Fulham), Phil Bardsley (Sunderland), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96), Paul Pogba (Juventus) and Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City).

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Arsenal came second behind United with 20 players, Aston Villa third with 15, Tottenham and West Ham joint fourth with 13 primary products. Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are in seventh with 12 home grown players, while Chelsea are eight with total 12 players and Liverpool are tenth with a total of 10 primary products.

Outside the Premier League, Barcelona are the undisputed kings of producing players – with a massive 38 players produced by the famous La Masia academy. And it’s not only the number of production that impresses, its the unbelievably high talent level too. The likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique are all home-grown players.

Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnias lie second behind Barcelona with 29 primary products, while Real Madrid have 27 home grown players. Another French club, Stade Rennais, are above Manchester United with 21 primary prodcuts. Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are sixth with a total of 23 players followed by Sochaux, Real Sociedad, Atalanta and Atletico Madrid.

Top 10 from the Premier League

Manchester United – 24 total academy products
Arsenal – 20 academy products
Aston Villa – 15 academy products
Tottenham Hotspur – 15 academy products
West Ham United – 13 academy products
Newcastle United – 13 academy products
Manchester City – 12 academy products
Southampton – 12 academy products
Chelsea – 12 academy products
Liverpool – 10 academy products

Complete list..

Top 10 from Europe

Barcelona (La Liga) – 38 academy products
Olympique Lyonnais (Ligue 1) – 31 academy products
Real Madrid (La Liga) – 29 academy products
Stade Rennais (Ligue 1) – 24 academy products
Manchester United (Premier League) – 24 academy products
Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – 23 academy products
Sochaux (Ligue 1) – 22 academy products
Real Sociedad (La Liga) – 21 academy products
Atalanta (Serie A) – 21 academy products
Atletico Madrid (La Liga) – 21 academy products

Complete list..

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United – Match made in Heaven?

Mourinho-United

Sir Alex Ferguson recently in an interview admitted that the Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho can manage anywhere in the world and is more than capable of replacing him as Manchester United manager.

Mourinho this year completed his decade in European football and it seems like everything he touches turns in gold. He won the League and the Champions League with Porto, the Premier League and the FA Cup with Chelsea, the Treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League) with Inter Milan and the La Liga with Real Madrid. However, his biggest challenge of his career could come in Manchester.

There has been a lot of talk of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement this season with many different names – like Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, David Moyes, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to name a few – linked to succeed him at Old Trafford. The Scot has openly admitted that one manager who is certainly good enough to do the job is Mourinho. A brilliant coach with a brilliant track record.

Here, we have a look at the five reasons why Mourinho and Manchester United are a match made in heaven…

1. Challenge

Mourinho loves a challenge, whether it was making Porto a European giant or making Chelsea a English powerhouse or winning the unprecedented treble with Inter or stopping Barcelona’s dominance in the La Liga, he just loves them and there won’t be any bigger challenge than coaching Manchester United once Fergie has hung up his coat. On the pitch, United are one of the top clubs in the world and will provide him with the opportunity of fulfilling his dream of winning the Champions League with an English club.

2. Guaranteed Success

The Portuguese boss is a winner and knows how to win the major trophies. He has won the league in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain and also has the experience needed to manage a top side like Manchester United having managed Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid. He will keep United at the top of their game and will ensure that there is no fallout period when Fergie has gone. Ferguson has been at the club for more than 25 years and ensuring there is no fallout period will be one of the biggest priorities for the club as they will be expected to challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League.

3. Brilliant Tactician

Like Ferguson, Mourinho is a brilliant tactician and that makes him a slight favourite to succeed the Scot at the helm of Old Trafford ahead of Guadriola and Moyes. United will need a tactical genius to replace Fergie, as he will be very important for all the future battles the club will have with Manchester City and Chelsea over the league title and other giants in Europe. Ferguson is not afraid of making the big and bold tactical decisions during the big games and Mourinho would carry this element of the side forward perfectly.

4. Brilliant Off The Pitch

Mourinho is not only brilliant at getting the results on the pitch but also off it. He is second to none when it comes to man management and sticking up for his players and his club in general. Very few outside United can target the club without some form of retribution from Sir Alex and this is something that would carry on under Mourinho’s guidance. Like the Scot, he is a great motivator and also good at playing the mind games, giving his side the psychological advantage before an important game. At the same time, he is a brilliant coach to watch in any press conference.

5. Perfect Opportunity To Settle Down

Mourinho is known more of a journeyman as he moves on quickly from one club to the next after he has achieved success. This aspect of him will have to change because United will not appoint someone they don’t expect to have the same sort of longevity as Ferguson. This is why some fans are saying that Guardiola would be a better option than Mourinho. But, to be honest, the Portuguese boss hasn’t got a chance to show his longevity at any of his clubs. When he was at Porto, a super-rich Chelsea came calling and it was always going to be very difficult for anyone to reject Roman Abramovich’s cash and the chance to manage in the Premier League. After three years at Stamford Bridge and a series of disagreements with the chairman, he was asked to leave and later he joined Inter. He won the treble with the Italians and then came Real Madrid. Who wouldn’t want to manage the most successful club in the world? However, he isn’t going to keep changing clubs forever, sooner or later he is going settle down somewhere and Manchester United could provide him with perfect opportunity to do so.

So, what do you think? Should Manchester United go for Mourinho? Will he be a success at Old Trafford?

Ten Greatest Manchester United Wins In The Sir Alex Ferguson Era (Videos)

Juventus-United-1999

On Sunday Manchester United take on their bitter neigbhours Manchester City, in what could prove to be an important fixture in the title race.

The Red Devils take on a City side which are unbeaten in the Premier League this season and haven’t lost a home game since December 2010, leading to Sir Alex Ferguson to insist that it would be ‘one of our best ever results’ should his side beat the reigning champions.

Should United win, it would surely be memorable, but will it be special like these victories? Below are the ten of the best Manchester United wins under Ferguson..

10 . Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea (FA Cup Final, 1994)

One of the greatest finals in the FA Cup history as United completely outplayed Chelsea at the Wembley Stadium. The Red Devils scored four times (Eric Cantona (x2), Mark Hughes and Brian McClair) as they went on to do the Premier League-FA Cup double. This triumph was the club’s eighth success in the competition, matching the record set by Tottenham Hotspur three years earlier.

9. Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City (Premier League, 2009)

One of the greatest Manchester derby ever. With the noisy neigbhours making more noise thanks to their Sheikh owners, a win was important for United as it would give them the bragging rights in the city. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring for the Red Devils early in the first half before Gareth Barry equalised. Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy both scored a brace in the second half and then in the sixth minute of injury time Michael Owen scored the dramatic winner to send Old Trafford into ecstasy.

8. Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa (Premier League, 2009)

United came into this match on the back of a two-game losing streak and with star strikers – Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney not playing it looked like a tough task. The Red Devils took the lead early in the first half, but Villa came back and led 2-1 before Cristiano Ronaldo’s 80th minute equaliser and Federico Macheda’s injury time winner. The win knocked Liverpool off the top spot and United stayed there till the end, equaling the Reds’ record 18 titles.

7. Everton 2-4 Manchester United (Premier League, 2007)

United had gone three seasons without a title as Arsenal and Chelsea dominated between 2004 and 2006. In the 2006/07 season, United led the way by three points from Chelsea and with just four games left, a tricky trip to the Goodison Park turned out to be the decisive one. Everton went 2-0 up midway through the second half, but a stunning 4-2 win for the Red Devils saw them win the title that season.

6. Manchester United 1-1 (6-5 pens) Chelsea (Champions League Final, 2008)

United faced Chelsea in an All-English final at Moscow for the Champions League trophy. The Red Devils took the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo’s header before Frank Lampard equalised for the Blues. The game went into penalties and the rest as we know is history. The win gave Sir Alex his second Champions League trophy and also re-established United’s dominance in Europe.

5. Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal (FA Cup Semi-Final, 1999)

This win not only helped United to reach the final of the FA Cup in 1999, but also denied Arsenal a chance to win back-to-back doubles. Roy Keane was sent off, Peter Schmeichel saved a last minute penalty from Dennis Bergkamp, then Ryan Giggs scored the greatest goal in FA Cup history as United reached Wembley. The momentum helped them win the FA Cup final and also pip Arsenal to the league title by a point.

4. Nottingham Forest 0-1 Manchester United (FA Cup 3rd Round, 1990)

United were on the brink of relegation battle and Fergie had failed to win a trophy in over three years at Old Trafford. Nottingham Forests were cup specialists that time and United the underdogs. Fans were calling for Fergie’s head and defeat would probably have seen him sacked, but Mark Robins goal bougth him time and the Red Devils went on to win the Cup that season.

3. Manchester United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League, 1993)

It was 26 years since United had last won the league and, trailing Villa in the title race and losing 1-0 at home to Sheff Wed, it looked like the wait would continue. But two headed goals by Steve Bruce – the second into injury time – took United at the top, where they stayed until the end, as Villa fell away.

2. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (Champions League Final, 1999)

This was one of the best comebacks in the history of the Champions League. With just three minutes of injury time left in Barcelona, United scored twice  (Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunner Solskjaer) to snatch the European Cup away from the hands of Bayern Munich, who had completely dominated the game and led since the eighth minute.

1. Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (Champions League Semi-Final, 1999)

This was the greatest win ever under Sir Alex Ferguson, even bigger than the above 1999 Champions League final itself. United came back from two goals down to win 3-2 in Italy against the best team in Europe and that to by completely outplayed them. This was the match that marked United as the worthy champions of Europe.

Manchester City v Manchester United Preview

City-Utd

The first Manchester derby of the season is here as Manchester City and Manchester United resume their rivalry on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium which could provide vital momentum in the title race.

Roberto Mancini’s City emerged victorious in both the Premier League encounters last season, winning 6-1 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at home before winning the title in the most dramatic style on the final day of the season.

The reigning champions have made a decent start to the defence of their crown and remain unbeaten after 15 games, but it is United who have a three-point advantage at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s meeting. There have been indications that it is already a two-horse race for the Premier League title, with others rivals – Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – struggling for consistency.

City’s participation in the Champions League and even Europe came to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Bundesliga champions – Borussia Dortmund in the midweek, while they were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton last weekend after a less than impressive performance. United, on the other, were also beaten 1-0 (at home) by CFR Cluj but had already won the group so Sir Alex Ferguson was able to rotate his squad. The 19-time league champions overcame Reading 4-3 last weekend and have been in superb form going forward all season, but it was yet another match in which they fell behind and this time not once but twice.

Ferguson will surely be demanding greater concentration against a team that has the best defensive record in the league and haven’t lost a single game at home since December 2010. The Scot says it would be one of United’s best-ever results if they can win on Sunday.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

City’s influential playmaker David Silva will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Manchester derby at home. The Spanish international missed the Champions League loss to Dortmund with a hamstring injury but remains in contention and is batting to take part on Sunday. Aleksandar Kolarov has been ruled out with a groin problem and Micah Richards (knee) is still sidelined. Gael Clichy (ankle) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) both should be available for selection, while James Milner (hamstring) is likely to miss out.

Manchester United

Tom Cleverley is doubtful for Manchester United after limping out in the first half of the game against Cluj and will have a scan on his calf injury. Sir Alex Ferguson has also revealed that Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic (both) are struggling to be fit in time for the derby and may completely be ready for the Sunderland game. Antonio Valencia (thigh), Nani and Anderson (both hamstring) have been ruled out of the important clash, while the likes of Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra are set to return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 164
Manchester City Wins – 46
Draw – 50
Manchester United Wins – 68

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

30-Apr-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
08-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
07-Aug-12 – Community Shield – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
16-Apr-11 – FA Cup – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Manchester City – LDWDD
The Citizens have been unbeaten in the league so far this season and are just three points behind leaders Manchester United in the standings. But they have won just once and drawn thrice in their last five games in all competitions, with the only win coming at Wigan. A win on Sunday will take them above United in the league table on goal difference.

04-Dec-12 – Champions League – Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Manchester City
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-1 Everton
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Manchester City
25-Nov-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
21-Nov-12 – Champions League – Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid

Manchester United – LWWWL
The Red Devils come into this match on the back of three consecutive wins in the Premier League and are sitting three points clear of their opponents at the top of the table. But they haven’t hit top gear and their defensive frailties have already been exposed. A win on Sunday will be massive one and will take them six points clear of City at the top.

05-Dec-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 0-1 CFR Cluj
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Reading 3-4 Manchester United
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
24-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
20-Nov-12 – Champions League – Galatasaray 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
The Belgium international scored the only goal in last season’s 1-0 win over United at the Etihad stadium – which won them the title – and was also as solid as rock at the back. The club captain is an inspirational presence for Roberto Mancini, and his match-up against Robin van Persie will see arguably two of the best players in their respective positions battling in a mouth-watering clash. How he copes with the Dutchman and what he can offer going forward will be the key to the outcome of the game, but one thing is for sure – if Kompany is on form, City are a very hard team to beat.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
All eyes have been on Robin van Persie this season, and – even Javier Hernandez has gone past Wayne Rooney in the goal-scoring charts, but numbers alone do not tell the full influence of the 27-year-old on his side. With the Dutch forward being the target man of the strike force, Rooney will certainly drop deeper when United lose possession, and will try to create chances from further back in the final third. His work rate and distribution are very important in clashes like these, and with two strikes in his last league game at Reading, the England forward may be in line for a hot goal-scoring streak.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany (C), Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero.

City XI

City manager Roberto Mancini is likely to recall Yaya Toure back to the squad after resting him for the Champions League game against Dortmund, while David Silva may well recover from his hamstring injury in time for the big game. Joe Hart continues in goal as Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic will play ahead of him in centre of the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov (groin) has been ruled out, which means Gael Clichy could be rushed back after recovering from his ankle injury, but should he not be ready Joleon Lescott could slot in or Pablo Zabaleta could switch sides win Maicon coming in on the right side. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure are expected to shield the defence as Silva, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri could play in a more advance role. Sergio Aguero is likely to lead the line for the hosts, with both Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko coming off the bench at some point during the game.

Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Ashley Young.

United XI

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to continue with David De Gea in goal after the keeper made his return to first team action against CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra are all expected to be back in defence after being rested during the midweek defeat at home. With Valencia and Nani both out, United are expected to play with the same formation (4-3-3) that won at Reading. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes will make the three-man midfield with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young further up the pitch, playing on either side of Robin van Persie. Shinji Kagawa is expected to make the bench, while the inform Javier Hernandez will be an option should the visitors need a goal at some stage of the game.

OPTA FACTS

  • 3 – Man Utd have won 1-0 against City three times in their last six Premier League games at the Etihad.
  • 5 – There have been just five goals scored in the last six league meetings between City and United at the Etihad Stadium and no more than one in any of those games.
  • 10 – Robin van Persie is joint-top scorer in the league, with 10 goals alongside Demba Ba, Michu and Luis Suarez – Man City’s top scorer is Carlos Tevez with seven.
  • 36 – City (15) and United (21) have come from behind to win a combined 36 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.
  • 21 – Man City and Man Utd have been awarded more penalties than any other side in the Premier League since the start of 2010-11.

REFEREE

Name – Martin Atkinson
Based – Yorkshire
Age – 41
Games – 18
Yellow Cards – 71
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Manchester City 13/10, Draw 12/5, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

As both teams have pulled away from the rest at the top of the table, it could turn out to be a very close affair decided by a moment of brilliance or a mistake. City will be looking to attack at home and take full advantage of United’s weaknesses at the back, while the Red Devils will hope to avoid conceding the first goal again but have also shown the determination and character to win games from losing positions. With the winner taking the top spot in the league table, both teams will look to get the 3 points. United have the firepower, but City have a very solid defence, making the hosts slight favourites. Expect United to get something out of this one, maybe a high scoring draw.

Predicted Score: Manchester City 2-2 Manchester United