The Manchester Derby: Strap yourself in for the ride of the season
A team on a roll against one at a standstill (photo: Getty Images)

The Manchester Derby: Strap yourself in for the ride of the season

Manchester United against Manchester City is always a huge game but this contest has connotations for both sides in the race for the top four positions.

Chris Lincoln

The Red Machine. Historically one of the hardest to beat when finely-tuned. Developing speed throughout the year. Almost unstoppable. A Ferrari at its peak. Is it finally their turn again? Not United, Liverpool.

Their closest rivals, draped in gold. The champions, led out by one of the greatest of all time. Winners in numerous countries. The Mercedes, Manchester City. A legacy about to come to an end?

The chasing pack. Too many spins, skids and slips. Inconsistencies within the machines. One of whom has crashed out in six of the last eight. One that could determine who is at the top of the podium. One that could decide the qualification positions for the greatest European stage. Solskjaer’s at the wheel but going the wrong way. Manchester United.

The Mercedes of City

You can’t help but feel City must win before the last three corners of this pulsating race to the finish. The Red Machine keep nudging in front by a nose. The champions respond at every turn. But any slight drop in pace could prove costly. The pace is staggering.

The brakes, Fernandinho. Keeping this fast vehicle stable, breaking up play. The fuel, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling. Sheer speed, oozing class. The engine, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Keeping the cogs of this finely-tuned machine ticking.

But how good is this car at defending when under pressure? Can it be unpicked? Will another Red Machine come flying past?

The stumbling rivals

A machine that must respond. The most inconsistent of the top six. Lacking bite.

Numerous system failures have caused their downfall. One driver lost his job. The team legend is back but all of a sudden now under pressure. The gears must click into place. Pogba, Martial, De Gea, Matic. Too often not working as they should.

But this is a rivalry like no other. Is Manchester red? Is Manchester blue? Is it half and half? Is it blue just for the evening? Confusion.

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Manchester united?

This Red Machine can still reach its target. A bonus point in Formula One for succeeding with qualification. A place in Europe for Premier League success. But are the fans willing to sacrifice?

The rivalry in Manchester is big. Hamilton versus Vettel. But the battle across the M62 fuelled by history is even greater. Senna versus Prost. United versus Liverpool. The other Red Machine. The whole of Manchester, united? Surely not.

United must show passion, pride and perform, particularly on their home track. They must deliver an action-packed response. Wheel-to-wheel action. Sparks. Fireworks.

Strap yourself in

This is the race that could determine so much. Are the United back-markers willing to let City fly past or are they prepared to put up a fight?

Can City keep the advantage going into the final laps of the season? Or could this be the night for Liverpool without even playing? A night where United lose more substance in the top four race and City stay behind in the title hunt?

A race that is a must-win for both teams. Start your engines; strap yourself in; this is going to be explosive.