Guardiola feels 'sympathy' for Man Utd ahead of Manchester derby

The two sides will lock horns at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday

By Web Desk
March 01, 2024
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. — Reuters

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola expressed sympathy for long-standing rivals Manchester United ahead of the Manchester derby, acknowledging their struggles since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Since Ferguson stepped down in 2013, concluding his illustrious tenure with 13 Premier League titles, Man Utd have failed to pose a significant challenge for the championship.

In contrast, Man City have clinched the title six times during this period, with five of those triumphs secured in the past six years under Guardiola, who replicated United's Treble feat last season.

Heading into Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium, the Red Devils find themselves trailing City by 15 points, prolonging their wait for another league title to an 11th year.

Guardiola empathized with United's predicament, understanding the transition from an era of dominance under Ferguson to their current position in the shadows.

“You have to win in the big clubs,” said Guardiola. “It's not easy for United to come from an incredibly successful period with Sir Alex and cope with that.

“Sometimes I can understand it. Before, in England, with the managers they had more patience. Today, everyone has a lot of pressure.”

The recent investment from new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team has provided a glimmer of hope for Manchester United's resurgence.

Ratcliffe predicted that it may take United two to three years to mount a serious challenge to City's dominance, a sentiment acknowledged by Guardiola, who anticipates significant progress at Old Trafford in the coming years.

“Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his people know about their club,” said Guardiola. “I don't know anything.

“If they said they need two or three years, who am I to say the opposite? I'm pretty sure they will work to reduce the gap, but I cannot give you an answer because I'm not there.

“I'm not the right person to ask about the diagnosis there - ask the people who are inside United every day.”

In terms of team news, Manchester City will be without Jack Grealish, who sustained a fresh injury setback during their 6-2 FA Cup victory over Luton Town midweek. Guardiola confirmed Grealish's unavailability for the upcoming weekend fixture, with uncertainty surrounding his return date.