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Manchester Derby Preview

David McCourt takes a look at the biggest derby day ever

Written by . Published on April 28th 2012.

Manchester Derby Preview

SIR ALEX FERGUSON (SAF) has dubbed Monday’s Manchester derby the “most important” of his 25 years at the club, but is next weeks clash at The Etihad Stadium the biggest Manchester Derby ever?

SAF wasn’t at the helm when Denis Law famously backheeled home for City against United on the last day of the season in 1974. Yet, given it’s a myth that it was Law who relegated the reds that day – United were already down as their relegation rivals Norwich had won, meaning Law’s goal, and the outcome of the match, was irrelevant – is Monday night’s ‘title decider’ the highest stakes these city rivals have played for?

“The 'together' hash-tag and Twibbon is designed to symbolise the importance of fans getting behind the team.”

City’s defeat to Arsenal gave United an eight point gap at the top two weeks ago, but the blue half have since put three wins together and reduced to gap to three. Victory for the home side on Monday would put City top on goal difference with just two games to play.

Roberto Mancini has hinted he may recall Mario Balotelli – who tormented United at Old Trafford during City’s 6-1 victory earlier in the season – back to his squad for Monday night.

Mancini said that the Italian striker would not play for City again after he was sent off against Arsenal earlier this month, but it wouldn’t be the first time the City manager has had a sudden change of heart regarding his strikers.

He told France Football: “It's difficult to say today if I will recall Balotelli but everyone is available and I will make my choice on Sunday."

However, given the form of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, it’s difficult to see why Mancini would take the risk of putting Balotelli into a fixture with so much at stake.

The Argentine duo have started four Premier League games together this season, scoring 12 of City’s 15 goals in those matches.

Denis Law scores against United for City, 1974Denis Law scores against United for City, 1974

City have launched a Twitter campaign in the build up to Monday’s derby to encourage fans to pull together.

The 'together' hash-tag and Twibbon is designed to symbolise the importance of fans getting behind the team.

It all feels a bit desperate, and will only add fuel to any claims United fans have that City are running scared. But for those with a higher cringe threshold than me, here’s some City stars explaining the #Together campaign.

Meanwhile ex-City manager Kevin Keegan has used all his managerial expertise and football insight to reveal that City must win on Monday to keep the title race alive.

He told BBC Radio Manchester's Blue Tuesday show: "City must win the game. If they win it, they're the favourites.” Cheers Kev.

Occasional footballer, Michael Owen, has piped up this week announcing he is ready to have a say in the title race.

The 32-year-old, whose biggest achievement at United remains his last-minute winner against City in 2009, has made only one Premier League appearance this season.

Michael Owen Scores for United against City, 2009Michael Owen Scores for United against City, 2009

Owen told MUTV: "My mindset has got to be get myself ready mentally, physically as I might be needed for 10 or 20 minutes."

United are expected to have no new injury concerns but will be without long-term absentees Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher and Anderson.

The good news for United fans is that SAF is likely to replace Rafael at right-back for the fixture, following the critical part he played in United conceding four goals at Old Trafford to Everton last weekend. Either Phil Jones or Chris Smalling are expected to fill the role.

Manchester United have won 67 of the 161 matches between the clubs since they first met in the old Division Two in 1894. City have 44 victories, with 50 draws.

Manchester City vs Manchester United, Monday 30 April, Etihad Stadium, 8pm KO.

You can follow David on Twitter @DavidPMcCourt

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jonathan SchofieldApril 30th 2012.

The very first thing the very unusual appointee that is the very safe pair of hands that is Roy Hodgson must do is ask the very brilliant Paul Scholes to play in the Euros.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
the Whalley RangerApril 30th 2012.

Harry refused! What makes you think Roy wants the job for two months, not two years? Age, not wisdom.

AnonymousApril 30th 2012.

You can understand the problem for the FA though - safe but uninspiring Roy or Harry, fresh out of the dock and with limited tactical nouse. Its not great.

To me Roy's teams never look inspired even if they can be tacticaly afective. Which sounds pretty much like England have been ever since Sven. which makes me think Roy probably wont do too much worse than his predecessors, but he's not likely to raise the bar too much either.

What England needs is a coach that can bring inspiration and motivation. unfortunately all the coaches that have proven themselves able to do that are foreign and everyone (press particulaly) seem to prefer an Englishman, who by virtue of nationality alone must be the best man for the job. The reward for the FA bowing to that little bit of jingoism is surely (and deservedly) another 4 years of mediocraty and failure.

jeers or cheersApril 30th 2012.

...will be deafening after the match against France

Predictor MancApril 30th 2012.

2-2 will be the result

City for the titleApril 30th 2012.

3-2 to City. Goal in the last six minutes by one of the defenders for City

AnonymousApril 30th 2012.

This game has tevez winner written all over it. but with two to play after it there could still be a twist.

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