Paul Parker

City must shed arrogant streak

Paul Parker

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The manner in which Manchester City have risen to the top of the English game, on the back of Sheikh Mansour's millions, means there is an element of arrogance around the club.

While that is bound to be a side-effect of such a rapid growth in financial resources and a return to winning silverware, I think some of the players have got sucked into the hype as well.

How else to explain Micah Richards saying on Friday that he thought Manchester United would be "a bit frightened" of City when they meet at Old Trafford in the derby on Sunday?

That was an immature statement to make. When Richards sees it in print he will probably wish he never said it.

Why would United be frightened of City? It's daft. Sir Alex Ferguson and his men have been playing Barcelona in Champions League finals in recent years. Why, because City have spent loads of money, will they suddenly be scared of the team down the road? It is not a brave statement, it is an immature one from a player still learning the game.

City have been giving it a lot of talk in recent years - including former chief exec Garry Cook, who once claimed City would usurp United as the biggest club in the world. You got the feeling that some people at City thought that talking the talk was actually achieving something. Meanwhile, at United there is just an insatiable appetite for trophies that goes on and on.

City will only get taken as seriously as United when they start winning trophies with that regularity, but they do have to lose that arrogant streak or they may become public enemy No. 1 even before they have started winning things.

Richards is talking about United being scared, but the derby is City's first proper test this season and it will be interesting to see how Roberto Mancini responds. Will he stick with the attacking shape that has brought 27 goals in eight games or will he be scared into a more defensive approach?

If he does stick to his guns then he deserves all the plaudits for the way he has gone about things. If he goes negative and doesn't get a win then there will still be questions about him as a manager.

Manchester City lead United by two points going into the match and it would be fair to say that is an accurate reflection of the relative strength of the two sides at present. They are certainly the two strongest teams in England and there is a bit of a gap between them and the chasing pack.

But when you look at the strength in depth that City boast I think you have to admit that they are the strongest squad in the Premier League. They are marginally ahead of United in that respect as they boast a bigger array of players with real quality.

Having spent so much money over recent seasons they now find themselves in a position where they can challenge in all competitions, whereas United I don't think quite have that. When they are weakened in the Champions League they can struggle a bit.

What that means is that the rivalry between the two clubs is as a close as it has been in 20 years or so. When I was playing for United the games were always difficult but the rivalry was not as intense as City weren't exactly a force back then. Derby games are always difficult, but there were bigger fixtures around for United: Leeds United, and Liverpool of course.

Now the Manchester derby is stealing the spotlight from other games due to City's recent rise in prominence, but it won't become a 'big' one until City start winning a few more of the games and redress the balance in that respect.

City have only won once in 28 league games at Old Trafford after all. Let's be honest, it hasn't quite got to the stage where United fans are putting this game up against the Liverpool one.

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