The Manchester Derby is just a few hours away, and we reached out to Jack Sargeant from SB Nation's Manchester United blog The Busby Babe about Saturday's big game with five questions about the Red side of the Derby.
BnB: Jose Mourinho is not only a unique character but also a fantastic manager that clearly has made United a better team in a short period of time. What are the biggest changes to Van Gaal's side so far?
JS: In terms of playing style, there hasn't been quite as big a change as we might have anticipated. It's probably something to do with the fact it's still very early days, and the fact United have had quite a kind start to the season, but so far we've continued to dominate possession as we did under van Gaal, occasionally with the same problem of actually getting in behind the opposition defence. Fortunately the changes in personnel mean we've still been much more effective, and by all accounts Mourinho is happy to give his players a little more creative freedom, but as of yet we're still waiting to see the full result of his arrival.
BnB: Seriously, how the hell is Fellaini still a starter? Is this actually a good idea for the Derby?
JS: If you'd asked this last season, the answer would have been a definite no. But under Mourinho, Fellaini has surprisingly managed to reinvent himself as a very handy defensive midfielder. His height and strength makes him very useful at breaking up the play, and so far any concerns we may have had about his positional play have been unfounded. That's not to say he's the best defensive midfielder in the United squad -- that would probably be Morgan Schneiderlin -- and against a Pep Guardiola team, where the ball is very rarely in the air, Fellaini's stature will be less useful than normal. But the flipside is that we theoretically offer a real threat on set-pieces. Fellaini could well surprise a few people on Saturday.
BnB: The midfield battle will perhaps be the most fascinating aspect of Saturday's game. Where do United have an advantage, and where do they lose to City's midfield?
JS: United have a clear advantage in pure physicality. I actually like Kevin De Bruyne in the centre of midfield -- I think he's strong enough on the ball to play there -- but David Silva is much more of a traditional lightweight playmaker, compromising City's ability to win for sheer power. If Paul Pogba gets a run on Silva -- and come to think of it, probably De Bruyne too -- he's likely to be able to brush past him. Fernandinho's going to have his hands full.
United's disadvantage is definitely in pure technical ability, Pogba (who is just about the perfect midfielder) excluded. Wayne Rooney is frankly incompetent, and Fellaini, as the joke goes, seems to have two heads for feet and a foot as his head. While City's midfield is spearheaded by two majestic technicians, United's has just the one -- and Pogba can't do it all alone, particularly from his current role in the deep-lying midfield two.
BnB: Which of the big summer signings is more likely to affect the game, Pogba or Zlatan? Why?
JS: I think it's going to be Pogba. With City's attack so potent, he's going to have a very important defensive job alongside Fellaini, all while trying to link the defence with the attack. He's really going to have to run the show if United are to have any success. That, however, isn't to say Zlatan won't produce the decisive moment: his first few games at United have generally seen him produce goals from nowhere and nothing, often on the back of fairly quiet and unspectacular performances. City's defence won't be able to sleep with Zlatan around, but Pogba will be more crucial overall.
JS: I'm going to defy expectation of a cagey snoozefest, and say 2-2!