Pep Guardiola has described Manchester United interim boss Ralf as ‘the father of the pressing’ as he prepares his Man City side for another ‘difficult’ derby.
Manchester City come into the game three points clear at the top of the Premier League as they chase a fourth title in five years under Pep Guardiola, with the balance of power in Manchester having firmly shifted to the Blue side of the city.
The game will Pep Guardiola go up against Ralf Rangnick for the first time in his career, though the City boss was full of praise for the man in the opposing dugout.
“The difference from Rangnick is the pressing,” Guardiola told the media. “Rangnick is a father of the pressing in these positions. You see with Liverpool and Southampton and Jesse Marsch with Leeds, a little bit with Tuchel.
“Top clubs, five or six teams are playing this way. Important ones like Liverpool, United, Chelsea, Southampton, Leeds.
“The work he did in Germany is brilliant, a proper school of football. He came here and you start to see some patterns of what he wants to do.”
While Manchester City have established themselves as English football’s dominant force, Manchester United’s fortunes have gone in the opposite direction, having failed to put together a title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. Despite that though, Guardiola says that he says he has ‘massive respect’ for their cross-city rivals.
“All the time United have been competitive. When we played the Champions League final vs Sir Alex [in 2009 and 2011], last year competing to be champions, always have a massive respect for their history, quality of players. Doesn’t matter what happens, a lot of respect.”
United do have a pretty decent record at the Etihad, however, winning on four of their last five trips to the East side of Manchester. While United are 19 points behind the current league leaders going into Sunday’s clash, the former Barcelona boss was fully aware of the threat posed by Rangnick’s side.
“We play against teams who are 6 points behind or 25 points behind. It’s not a problem. In the Premier League we have been a lot of points ahead, at the start of the season we never expected it. I think Ole last season make an incredible campaign but we were exceptional.
“United upfront and in the middle. Experience with Pogba and Matic, incredible energy with Fred, speed on the sides. Central defenders, Varane, Maguire, Lindelof all of them are experienced. I see this, I don’t see 19 points behind. I don’t care, we can win or lose.
“Today we work on the way we have to play, win the situations in every moment. Different manager last season but you start to see and realise what they do.
“They are more aggressive upfront, the moments they are intense, they drop and the boys at the side are deep runners. They have qualities. You cannot say upfront they are not good deep runners, maybe the best alongside Liverpool and Mount, Pulisic, Havertz at Chelsea. We know and have to control it.
He added: “I see their weaknesses and their strengths. If I think it’s an easy game, I don’t sleep well. Always I think the best version of all of them. We would be confused. I have to tell them the strength they have.
“We saw how strong they are, every time they had a chance to score. Everyone has to be prepared, defenders have to face the wingers, have to be ready. They didn’t win many games but they scored most of the time away, they can run more than normal or more against us. It will be difficult. They can play, if you make a mistake they are clinical.”
Read Also – Five of the best Manchester Derbies