clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Speaking with the Enemy: A Q&A with a City fan ahead of the Manchester derby

New, comments

We caught up with our Blue colleague, Renato Gonçalves

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League Preview Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ahead of Thursday’s potentially title-deciding fourth-place-bothering Manchester derby, we reached out to our Manchester City counterpart Renato Gonçalves from Bitter and Blue.

The Busby Babe: Hi there. For all the early season promise, this latest Manchester Derby is a bit of a bust, isn't it? We're meant to have the two best managers in the world, and instead of challenging for the league, we're scrapping for fourth place.

Bitter and Blue: But let's be honest: how unlucky have we been? It seems like the Manchester Season has been about dominating almost every match and not being able to win it either because of poor finishing or refereeing mistakes. We should be in a better position, but I'd say both managers have done a good job and both teams are playing well. We just cannot kill games off. It's a problem for both of us and the best person to understand a United fan's frustration is a City fan, and vice-versa. Weird times.

tBB: On a related note, how would you rate Pep Guardiola's first season in charge?

B&B: I'm not in the "Pep's Season is a Total Failure" bandwagon. I've watched City for a long time and we haven't played as well as we have this season. I honestly believe that. The lack of trophies is disappointing, for sure, but Pep made a squad that didn't really fit his philosophy play very good possession football against great teams. We just couldn't kill games off. If Kevin De Bruyne hadn't hit the woodwork 12 times this season (SERIOUSLY), had we gotten the penalties we should have against Arsenal and Liverpool lately, if Yaya Touré's shot on the post and Fernandinho's header on the crossbar had gone in against Arsenal at Wembley, we could be fighting with Chelsea and Spurs for the league and in the FA Cup Final. Referees suck, balls hit the post, players miss easy chances. I don't think you can blame that on Pep. I believe in him, I'll keep believing in him, and while he has made some mistakes, he now knows his squad and he'll rebuild it in the summer with great defenders and players who fit him. We'll be much better next season, but this one doesn't suck.

tBB: In the reverse fixture in September, City dominated United completely in the first half, before the Reds almost managed to claw themselves back into it. What, if anything, do you expect to be different this time around?

B&B: It really comes down to how Mourinho faces this one. If he looks at it like the Chelsea game 10 days ago, he'll put together a plan not only to avoid being dominated, but also win the game this time. If he's worried about the injuries and the Europa League, I don't think he'll be as focused as he was in the Chelsea game. Still, I don't expect City to take control and dominate United like in the first game.

tBB: What potential weaknesses in the City team are you worried about United exploiting on Thursday? Are you still playing Kolarov at center back by chance?

B&B: The defense isn't as bad anymore now that Vincent Kompany is back and healthy. Kolarov at CB was really a solution to not having Kompany and not signing another competent CB, which we should have done last summer. Now that Kompany is back, Kolarov is on the bench, which is his rightful place anyway. But Pep is Pep, and we might see Kolarov again. If that happens, you have a clear target to exploit, especially with Rashford's pace.

tBB: If City are to win, what tactical or individual battles do you think will be key?

B&B: If Valencia starts, that's him against Clichy. If Antonio is able to dominate that matchup, which I fully expect him to do, then you guys have a really good chance to win.

tBB: It seems your man Pep doesn't fancy Agüero. We'd happily take him off your hands. If you could sign one United player, who would it be?

B&B: As Agüero himself said, no United players can play at City. Also, Pep definitely fancies Agüero and has played him in every match over the last two months. Don't you try to create problems in our squad. We're fine here. Leave us alone!!!

tBB: Much to our amusement (snigger, snigger), City are going to end the season trophyless. But a more forgiving league run-in means that you're much better positioned than United are to secure a top four finish. How do you see the rest of the season playing out?

B&B: It's a really comfortable run-in, so I firmly expect us to finish in the top four. Honestly, the only tough game remaining is the one on Thursday. We face Watford, Leicester and West Brom who have nothing to play for this season, and we get Middlesbrough and Palace, who'll be fighting for relegation but aren't really THAT tough. So yeah, we'll get top four, maybe with five wins, and we might get third place above Liverpool, which you guys wouldn't mind, right? (wink)

tBB: And finally, give us a prediction for the final score.

B&B: 2-2 draw, really fun game.