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Manchester City v Manchester United: Carragher believes Guardiola is key to the Blues’ dominance

Jamie Carragher believes Manchester United will always be in the shadow of Manchester City while Pep Guardiola is in charge at the Etihad.

United’s new minority owner Jim Ratcliffe talked bullishly of knocking European champions City “off their perch” when claiming a 25 per cent share of the club. He has been equally aggressive in his moves of far, poaching City’s Omar Berrada to become chief executive while talks continue over a deal for Newcastle United’s sporting director Dan Ashworth.

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Carragher thinks those changes will improve United but not to a sufficient level to overtake their city rivals.

Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “Manchester United can forget about knocking Manchester City off their perch while Pep Guardiola remains in English football.

“United can change owners, headhunt the best chief executive and sporting director in the world, revamp their recruitment department, rebuild Old Trafford and appoint their best manager since Sir Alex Ferguson. It doesn’t matter. So long as Guardiola is around, City will lose no sleep.

“United will never be the most dominant club in their city, let alone the rest of the country, until City are in the process of hiring a new coach.”

Carragher accepts Jurgen Klopp’s impending departure from Liverpool could have ramifications for the Premier League leaders and feels City will only relinquish some of their powers when Guardiola also walks away.

He added: “The source of hope is that Guardiola will not be around forever. Everyone beyond the Etihad is praying he does not extend the contract that runs until 2025.

“When he has had enough the tide might turn, just as Jurgen Klopp’s imminent exit from Liverpool runs the possibility of his club falling back into the pack. 

“The champagne corks will be popping in the Ineos offices on the day Guardiola goes because it will reduce the timescale by which United’s ambitions can realistically be realised.”

Sky Sports pundit Carragher helped set the news narrative this week with a critical analysis of United’s press during Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Fulham.

Ten Hag bit back in his media conference ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup win at Nottingham Forest, accusing the Merseysider of a lack of objectivity.

Carragher said: “My analysis on Sky’s Monday Night Football last week was intended to demonstrate why United are so inconsistent. Manager Erik ten Hag had a go back for what he perceived as unfair criticism. He felt I have been critical from day one. Actually it was from game two when his United team lost at Brentford – but it was directed at the players, not the manager.

“But fair play to him for saying what he did. I have nothing but respect and admiration for managers who defend themselves and their teams. If creating a siege mentality at United leads to positive results and improved performances, it is the perfect response.”

United go to City on Sunday with Carragher believing they have to play “underdog football” and rely a little bit on luck to get a result.

He said: “As has been the case for the past few years, United are rank outsiders. They can win the game, but only by playing ‘underdog football’ with men sitting deep behind the ball and hoping to counter-attack. 

“Nine times out 10 that is not good enough against a team of City’s ability. There is always a chance in a one-off game the strategy will work. It will need a shock result.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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