This was not in the Sheikh Mansour masterplan when he bought Manchester City in 2008. At least, not so soon. A £1bn-plus investment in the club had yielded two of the last three Premier League titles and City were looking forward to dominating #English football – and their neighbours – for the foreseeable future.Yet on Sunday afternoon Manchester United can throw down a significant marker by beating the old enemy in the 169th derby, at Old Trafford. Beyond bragging rights, a victory for the first time in five meetings between the clubs will plant a red flag back in the blue zone of #MUFC #Manchester, and force #MCFC #ManCity to accept that following the aftershocks of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement two seasons ago their fierce rivals are resurgent under Louis van Gaal.
Wayne Rooney, the United captain and record scorer in the fixture with 11 goals, has already described Sunday’s encounter as a “massive game of pride”. But there is more at stake. This is a local squabble that could define the wider future for each club. A 50th City victory would take Pellegrini’s men above Van Gaal’s, two points clear, and halt any talk for the moment of the tide starting to turn United’s way again. Yet if the home side claim a 70th triumph a view will form that the noisy neighbours may have to accept gazing up at United once more. City would trail by four points and will have fallen from challengers to Chelsea for the championship to the dogfight for a top-four finish.