There’s a football match in Manchester on Sunday.
So, as the cloak of tension falls over the city and the nerves take hold, Bleacher Report decided to solicit the views of both sets of fans to get a feeling for the game directly from the streets of Manchester...
Interestingly, Manchester City fans have all the confidence ahead of the derby. There is a new swagger from the blue half of Manchester—no longer do fans see their team as second best.
Mike Holden, lifelong City fan and Editor of BestoftheBets.com, said, "United’s biggest threat to City is their sheer 'competitiveness.' Haranguing officials over decisions and trying every last trick in the book to gain an unsporting advantage."
Such is the rivalry in Manchester that City fans believe United attempt to make up for perceived current shortcomings by manipulating officials’ decisions. They point to the high-profile games against Chelsea and Arsenal, where United’s opposition failed to finish the game with 11 men.
Manchester United fans shrug off this accusation and claim it's sour grapes from the City faithful. However, there is an unfamiliar sense of foreboding among United fans this season.
John Smith, lifelong United fan and Editor of ManUnitedOnly.com, offered his predicted result: "My heart says 1-0 City, my head says 2-0 City."
That’s a pretty damning assessment from a fan who has enjoyed two decades of unprecedented success as a Manchester United supporter.
Neither team is firing on all cylinders, but City fans remain confident, whereas United fans remain cautious. However, there is one subject that both sides seem to agree on—the key battle will be won or lost in midfield.
Mike Holden argued:
If United can stretch the play and get the ball out to the wide areas enough, they can hurt City with crosses. If City keep things tight and compact with play congested in centre midfield, then United will struggle to get the ball back.
John Smith agreed:
Yaya Toure has to be United’s biggest concern. He dominated the last derby and if United fail to find an answer to his authority in the center of the park then the rest could come crashing down. United needs to play to strengths and get the ball wide.
Both fans also believe both Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson will employ similar versions of the same system, 4-2-3-1.
Holden has City lined up like this: Joe Hart; Maicon, Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic, Pablo Zabaleta; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, David Silva; Carlos Tevez.
Smith has United lined up like this: David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes; Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher; Robin van Persie.
If this transpires, expect a congested affair in the middle of the park with City aiming to retain possession for long spells and eventually wear the opposition down and United utilising a more natural width to push hard on the full-backs and get some service into van Persie.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be one mammoth clash, and the needle between both sets of fans will eternally remain.
Smith accused Holden of arrogance, and Holden quickly responded, "I think my team is better than your team, what's so arrogant about that?"
Game on then...
(Bleacher Report interviewed the sources firsthand)
Further reading: 5 Things Manchester United Must Consider Ahead of the Derby