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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rival Rendezvous: Battle of the Goliaths

It's being tipped as the biggest encounter in the Premier League this season, and rightly so. The powerhouses of Manchester lock horns & resume their rivalry this Sunday when Manchester City come to visit Old Trafford for the first Manchester derby (okay okay, the second!) against defending champions Manchester United. Being a top-of-the-table clash, this is no more David versus Goliath but Goliath taking on Goliath at the Theatre of Dreams. 

For this week's Rival Rendezvous, we managed to catch hold of Joe Moran, who is a lifelong City supporter, season ticket holder & also harbours a dream to be the CEO of his beloved football club one day. Joe gets candid, straightforward & quite blunt at times, as he answers the questions posed to him -

1. First up, what are your thoughts on the game this Sunday?

Joe: I think this Manchester Derby is one of the biggest in recent times, as well as being one of the biggest games of the season altogether. A win for either side will be priceless, not only in points, and obviously bragging rights, but a derby win can always become a platform for the side to use as momentum, and go on a winning streak.

With Mancini's new attacking ways, there will be goals. Not only is this derby one of the biggest, I think it will be one of the most exciting to date, too.

2. How do City fans view the Manchester Derby fixture? Has this become important only since the Abu Dhabi takeover (like in case of United fans) or has it been an important game to win always?
 
Joe: The derby has always been big for us, I feel, from when we had Macken upfront, to Sibierski, to Tevez. In the rather darker City days, the derby was the one time the team could give the fans something to shout about, as we wasn't exactly challenging for numerous titles.

To say United held the derby back then in the same regard would probably be false, as you could say then they had bigger fish to fry, but not anymore. The Manchester derby is again a more significant occasion than the Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea games.

3. Manchester City have spent over £300m in the last 4 seasons & won only a single trophy - the FA Cup last season. How much of that lavish spending is justified?
 
Joe: All of it. The majority of successful teams have established themselves through money. City are no different to Chelsea in terms of spending, and it's refreshing to see a new team challenging for titles.

4. Tell us your most favourite signing City has made since the Abu Dhabi royal family assumed reins at the club.

Joe: Top of the list has to be David Silva. He's only just completed his first full season here, and the first part of that was spent injured after winning the World Cup with Spain. Regardless, he was the difference last season and he has the ability to take us to another level. Right now he is one of the best players in the world, and £24m suddenly seems like a bargain.

Bargain for Brilliance
5. How do you rate Roberto Mancini as a manager?

Joe: I rate Mancini highly. I've had my doubts at points, but that's always going to happen. When he came, the team was just a collection of individuals, not anymore. He's assembled a very good team. He's managed to get some of the worlds best players together, as evidenced this season. I hope he remains at the helm for a long time to come yet. Roberto will only improve, and the team will improve alongside him.

Thumbs Up From The Fans Too!
6. Give us your thoughts on the Carlos Tevez saga.

Joe: I think how Tevez has treated the manager, team-mates and fans has been nothing short of a disgrace. You cannot get any lower than refusing to do your job. Tevez as a footballer is paid millions of pounds to do something he loves, how many of us would love this opportunity? Yet Tevez seems all too keen to squander it. He's a great player, one of the best to play for Manchester City, but when we rid ourselves of the poison that is Tevez, and his agent, Kia Joorabchian, the better it is for the club as a whole.

Sour Grapes For Everyone!
7. Back to the game, do you advocate City adopting an attacking style of play against Man United, also used against the lesser teams in the Premier League?

Joe: I really hope we adopt an attacking style for this game. With the attacking talents at our disposal, it would be a great shame if we did not exploit them. United's defence is nowhere near perfect, so by attacking we could really cause some serious problems.

8. Both Manchester teams played each other in the season's curtain raiser i.e. the Community Shield at Wembley & United won after making a fantastic comeback of sorts. What do you think went wrong for City that day?

Joe: I think we just lost concentration, and you could argue we were rusty, too. The City side you saw that day will be foreign to the one you'll see come Sunday afternoon. That's for sure.

9. Sergio Aguero is back in the team with a last-minute goal against Villareal in the Champions League. Will he be key against Manchester United, despite having never played them before?

Joe: Sergio could definitely be the key on Sunday. He's a world-class striker, one of the best in the world. His movement, control and finishing is second to none. If the game is a tight affair, he's the sort of player that could produce a moment of magic that could decide the game.

Can He Make The Difference For City?
 10. Who are the players you think will be significant for City, as well as United?

Joe: Firstly, Vincent Kompany will have to again put in a nearly perfect performance as the captain. Despite, his blip, Rooney is in top form, and he will be important in deciding which side of Manchester the three points go to. At the other end of the pitch, top scorer Sergio Agüero will also be a significant player for City. If Agüero maintains his form shown in the past few weeks, he could be the difference. The man supplying him, David Silva will also have a big part to play in proceedings. Without his creativity, we may become unstuck, but again, if David can carry on playing the way he has, the United defence will have their work cut out. Nani is a threat to us, he always seems to put in a sterling performance against us, and I'm worried if we can get to grips with him. If not, Nani can destroy us.

Talismanic Rooney - Saviour Again?
The Game Changers
11. Which has been your favourite Manchester Derby encounter till date?
 
Joe: My favourite derby so far has to be the first Etihad Stadium derby, where City ran out 4-1 winners. Back then, as I've said, it was one of the rare opportunities the team could give us something to shout about.

12. Tell us your predicted Manchester City starting lineup for the Old Trafford game.

Joe: Nasri and De Jong are doubtful, but if they are fit in time, I would slot them in for Milner and Barry, and push Yaya Toure back.
Joe's Predicted Man City Lineup
13. On a final note, your scoreline prediction for the game.
 
Joe: It's such a big game, nobody will want to lose, it will be a very anxious affair, so I'm going for a 1-1. Agüero for City, Rooney for United. It will be an exciting encounter, though.

I thank Joe for talking to Traffordshire County. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeMoran21.

You can follow the author on Twitter @AbhinavCJ. You can be friends with him on Facebook here.

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