Manchester Derby 2013: Manuel Pellegrini Experience Gives Citizens the Edge
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Both Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes enter their first Manchester derby, but it is the Chilean who has the edge over the United manager. Moyes has been surrounded by rumour and controversy since his arrival at Old Trafford, so an early season trip to the Etihad is not an ideal scenario.
Although both managers have experience of intense derby matches—Moyes on Merseyside and Pellegrini in el Clasico—it's Pellegrini who triumphed the last time the pair met.
Villarreal beat Everton over two legs in a 2005 Champions League qualifier, an encounter which apparently still weighs on the United manager's mind.
Sky Sports reported the Scot still thinks about the defeat, quoting him as saying "it did rankle because we scored what we thought was a legitimate goal to take it into extra-time and it didn't count."
Although Moyes has a good record at the Etihad—four wins from six trips—a Pellegrini-coached side offers a different prospect.
Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that Manchester City have more of a winning mentality than Manchester United http://t.co/f3bOEo6yk0— FootballClubMagazine (@FootballClubMag) September 21, 2013
In addition to his results against Moyes, Pellegrini also never lost to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in the four times he faced them with Villarreal. They kept four clean sheets in those games, and although they also failed to score, it's this experience of keeping United at bay that gives City the advantage on Sunday.
For his part, the City manager has been attempting to add to the pressure on Moyes to deliver his first Manchester derby victory. In a statement reported by The Daily Mail, Pellegrini stated "I know he had good results against Manchester City when he managed Everton. I always have a good record against him when he was managing Everton when I was managing Villarreal."
David Silva is set to return from the thigh injury that has kept him occupied, and both he and serial derby-scorer Sergio Aguero will relish facing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. The defenders will be playing their third match in seven days. Both are too experienced to leave out, but that gruelling schedule is going to take its toll.
City will also be buoyed by their opening victory in the Champions League, which marks the first time they have achieved this in their three attempts so far. Despite the horrific display at Cardiff and the unconvincing two league games that followed, there is a lot to like about this City team.
Pellegrini is renowned as a manager who can build teams rather than collections of players, and the integration of new faces like Stevan Jovetic and Fernandinho point to a bright future.
While it's easy to dismiss that as irrelevant ahead of Sunday's game, one need only look back to the 4-0 demolition of Newcastle as recent proof of the team's destructive power. This streak of underwhelming performances isn't going to become a habit, and the Manchester derby would be an ideal place to come into form. If City are to make a challenge for the title, they have to beat their neighbours.
There is a lot of creativity at Pellegrini's disposal, while Moyes' reluctance to use Shinji Kagawa remains to his detriment.
Although Kagawa was brought in for the Champions League victory over Bayer Leverkusen, he looked out of position on the wing, instead preferring to drift inside with Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini.
This may have been partly to assist them as Leverkusen looked to run the midfield, but he was devoid of the spark he usually offers. Patrice Evra was then left to supply the width for United.
Both managers are still finding their way in charge of their respective teams, but Pellegrini and City have a slight advantage. With the head-to-head victories, home advantage and never having lost to Manchester United, Pellegrini will be sure to let everyone know.
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