Manchester United’s resurgence in the second half of the season looks like coming too late to challenge for the English Premier League title.
There could be a consolation prize for United, though: Regaining its status as the top team in Manchester.
United and City are separated by one point and one place going into the 169th Manchester derby at Old Trafford tomorrow – but the teams are heading in opposite directions.
Five straight wins – including impressive ones against Tottenham and Liverpool – have lifted United to third place and above City, which has dropped to fourth in a stuttering defense of its title. On New Year’s Day, City was level on points with first-place Chelsea but has won only six of 16 games in all competitions since then.
While Louis van Gaal is starting to make his mark at United, doubts are being cast over whether his City counterpart, Manuel Pellegrini, will even be in his job for next season.
It represents a huge turnaround from last season, when United was in turmoil under David Moyes and Pellegrini was guiding City to the Premier League-League Cup double in his first year in charge.
“We want to give United fans something to smile about when they go to work on Monday morning,’’ United captain Wayne Rooney said. “We want them to be the ones to be able to give out the banter to Manchester City fans at work.’’
It’s been a while since that has happened.
The smiles have been in the blue half of the city in recent times, with City having won the last four league meetings between the fierce local rivals. Last season was particularly galling for United, which lost 4-1 at Etihad Stadium and 3-0 at Old Trafford. City’s verve and swagger has disappeared in 2015 and the team has lost its last three away games to fall away from title contention.
‘’It’s a good moment to go into a derby,’’ City captain Vincent Kompany said. ‘’It’s the perfect place for us to go and try to rectify what we’ve had.’’
Before the Manchester derby, there is another huge local rivalry when Queens Park Rangers hosts Chelsea, which leads second-place Arsenal by seven points and also has a game in hand. Diego Costa will be missing for Chelsea against QPR – but in Loic Remy, who scored winning goals in the last two games, the leaders have an able deputy.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor