Lesson learnt, Erik ten Hag plots Manchester City's downfall
Manchester United have made huge progress since their 6-3 thrashing at rivals Manchester City in October, coach Erik ten Hag said, with the lessons learned from that loss standing them in good stead for the return Derby clash on Saturday.
United host City having lost just once from 18 matches in all competitions since their humbling at the Etihad Stadium and victory at Old Trafford will see Ten Hag’s side move to within a point of second-placed champions City.
Having not won the league title in a decade, Ten Hag has got supporters dreaming of ending that barren run sooner than expected, with their recent form a world away from the team who were so inferior to City on October 2.
“It was a lesson, we took the lesson and from that point on we have made huge progress,” Ten Hag told a news conference on Friday.
“We have to prove that tomorrow (Saturday) on the pitch. Last time we didn’t do well and we have to do it better. It has been a process in the last months where we have developed. We have to be brave, have to believe and have to play our game.
“It is not about that game anymore. It is the past, it is about the future.”
City are five points behind leaders Arsenal in their quest for a fifth Premier League title in the last six seasons, but they were knocked out of the League Cup by lowly Southampton in midweek, looking unusually flat in attack.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said United are back fighting for the title.
“The improvement is clear, not just results,” Guardiola told a news conference. “I have the feeling every time at Old Trafford or the Etihad it’s been a difficult game.
“It is always an attractive game, both teams want to try to play. A lot of quality players in both sides. Top-class managers. Will be a good game.
“It’s Man United. With Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer, previous coach) they were close. What happens in the previous seasons, I don’t know. It’s normal United are there. Nobody said they would be, they are there because they have to be. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s why this competition is so difficult.”
Guardiola is fully aware of the enormity of Saturday’s encounter for his side.
“It’s a big week we cannot deny it.”
⚫ Manchester United vs Manchester City
⚫ Wolves vs West Ham
⚫ Nottingham Forest vs Leicester City
⚫ Brighton vs Liverpool
⚫ Everton vs Southampton
⚫ Brentford vs Bournemouth