It’s the final game of the 2018/19 campaign against a team in the top six – it’s Manchester United at Old Trafford. A win for the blues could see them take a massive step forward towards retaining the Premier League crown. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be looking to put an awful run of form to bed and strengthen their bid for that final Champions League spot. It’s a derby with plenty at stake, and by no means as one-sided as the bookies are making it out to be.
Thanks for joining us Elliott. It’s fair to say it’s been a season of mixed fortunes for Manchester United. The complete and utter failure of Jose Mourinho, the winning run of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that night in Paris and the recent disasters at Barcelona and Everton. How would you assess the campaign as a whole?
I mean, after the pre-season drama, this season was never going to be a success. José Mourinho had put a downer on it before the campaign had even begun. Despite this, there have been positives to take from the season. There seems to have been a long and overdue realisation that a proper rebuild needs to be put in place – not a half-arsed attempt like we have seen in previous years.
Manchester City will go into this clash with an element of confidence following the result on Saturday. However, it is a derby and so we should expect anything! Are you of the same opinion as those at the bookies; Manchester United – massive underdogs?
Of course we are underdogs but like you say, but I do agree, anything can happen in a derby. You only have to look at last season’s edition of this same fixture at the Etihad Stadium – the remarkable comeback to deny Manchester City the title. This time round, I can’t see us pulling anything out the bag but as always, you can never rule anything out!
There appears to be premature doubt over the appointment of ‘OGS’ from a portion of Manchester United supporters, possibly as an extreme reaction to the defeat at Goodison Park. Do you still believe the Norwegian was the right appointment?
Ole Gunnar Solskjær deserved the permanent role, there is no doubt about it. But after promises from the club that an in-depth procedure would be put in place to hire the next manager, it all points back to the club’s board taking the easy option. Solskjær was the cheaper option when compared to the current Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and it’s hard to see past that being a major thinking point in their decision to appoint him. Our results post-PSG have mainly down to fitness levels not being up to Ole’s standard, and that’s not his fault. As of now, I do believe he is the right man for the job, but he needs a full summer transfer window with full financial backing from the club. He needs to put his own squad together before anyone can fully judge him.
There has been plenty of speculation in recent weeks surrounding former Manchester City winger Jadon Sancho with a move to Old Trafford. Do you feel the suggestions that City will hinder any move to the red side of Manchester are true and do you feel the teenager is the marquee signing United should be looking for this summer?
I can’t see Manchester City being an issue for us if we really are interested in Jadon Sancho. City are unlikely to break their record transfer fee just so he doesn’t make the move to Old Trafford.
Jadon Sancho isn’t just a player that we need right now but his age and potential could be huge for our future. Manchester United need to move away from big names and ‘marquee’ signings for marketing value, and sign players that actually fit our system and play their roles with perfection. I always said that a team of average players playing their roles is better than a team of superstars that rely on individual brilliance. Look at Ajax this season!
What is the mood around the fan base going into this one; a win for the reds giving Liverpool a helping hand and a defeat potentially swinging the Premier League title even further in favour of Manchester City?
It’s a sticky one. Of course the majority of Manchester United fans want Manchester City to win the league over Liverpool. There is no good situation for us on Wednesday night. That being said, it would be very typical of us to beat Manchester City, giving Liverpool the title and us missing out on top four…
Following Manchester United’s recent dip in form, are there any players that Pep Guardiola and Manchester City should be concerned about more than others in this one?
Paul Pogba has been our only source of creativity over the last past weeks. Everything goes through him and as shown in the first leg against PSG, if you shut him out, you shut out the entire team. It all depends on whether the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku decide to show up on the day.
Where do you feel the main battle could take place on the pitch?
Bernardo Silva versus well… everyone. The guy is an absolute genius. The issue with man-marking certain players out of a game against City is that you have plenty of quality, making it near impossible to keep certain players quiet. You man-mark Bernardo Silva out of the game, but you have the likes of Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne doing their thing too. Easier said than done, I guess.
It’s a horrible question for any Manchester United fan but it’s got to be asked – Premier League winners 2019: Manchester City or Liverpool?
City. End of.
Manchester United Starting XI and score prediction?
De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelöf, Shaw; Matić, Fred, Pogba; Rashford, Martial, Lukaku.
Manchester United 1-3 Manchester City.