It’s everybody’s favorite weekend in Manchester. Manchester City host Manchester United in the 188th Manchester Derby. A glorious day to be a Blue, or a Red to be sure.
To get the view from the Stretford side of town, I reached out to Jamie Ward of The United Stand. Jamie was gracious enough to give his insights on the mood around Old Trafford, and his view of the match itself.
CITYZENDuck: United got off to a shaky start in the Premier League this season, but seem to have righted the ship of late. What do you see as the biggest reason for the turnaround?
Jamie Ward: It was a dreadful start, but Erik ten Hag needed to see the worst to get the best out of this squad. The punishment given out following the Brentford hammering clearly hit home and it appears as if the players have really bought into his mentality. Getting the best out of players such as Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho was always going to be pivotal to success this season. It’s early doors, but both seem much more comfortable under ten Hag. Christian Eriksen was a masterstroke of a signing too.
CD: Erik Ten Hag has been handed the reigns to a club that finished 6th in the Prem last season. What does a successful first season look like for him?
JW: Top four. Yes, many will say that a spot in the top four should be bread and butter for Manchester United. The aim always has to be the title. Whilst true, this squad is nowhere near the finished article yet and squeezing into the Champions League spots will be a success.
CD: It was reported that Cristiano Ronaldo was seeking an exit from Old Trafford during the summer transfer window. Given his status as a club legend, what has been the reaction of United supporters to his alleged desire to leave?
JW: He should’ve been allowed to leave, but I’m not sure that was the club’s doing. I believe the lack of suitable options is the reason Ronaldo remains at Old Trafford. Many feel as if he acted unprofessionally, and many feel as if he has burned his bridges. However, he appears to be enjoying himself at the club despite losing his place in the team. Even if he plays a bit role this season, he’s still one hell of a player to have around the squad.
CD: And finally, what is your prediction for this Sunday’s match at the Etihad?
JW: United have been a thorn in the side for City in recent years, particularly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (forgetting last season). Ten Hag will be quietly confident of getting something out of the game, particularly following the successes against Liverpool and Arsenal. City are a different kettle of fish though and it all depends on how Varane and Martinez react to Haaland’s threat. It could go either way, but I’d say City will edge a 3-2 thriller.
There you have it Cityzens. Thanks again to Jamie and everyone at The United Stand. You can keep up with Jamie on Twitter @jamie_ward84 and for all things, Manchester United, follow @NewsUnitedStand.