Pep Guardiola said playing Manchester United at Old Trafford is not “scary” any longer. City have lost once at Old Trafford in seven visits since February 2011, a run that includes 6-1 and 3-0 victories. Between 1974 and 2008 City failed to record a single victory.
Asked about City’s strong recent record at Old Trafford, Guardiola said: “I don’t make theories about what happened in the past for what is going to happen in the future. Every game is completely different.
“The reason why is the fact this club in the last decade grew a lot and it is not scary to go there. Before it was maybe more difficult. The players Manchester City had in the last decade have made this game a little bit more equal.”
Kevin De Bruyne will miss Wednesday’s derby at Old Trafford – a vital game in City’s title chase – because of a hamstring problem and Guardiola is unsure if the midfielder will return this season. “It is a muscular problem and we will see in the next days,” he said.
The manager wants De Bruyne’s injury-disrupted campaign to be examined in the summer. “Unfortunately it was one injury, another one, another one,” he said. “Muscular problems – he had two or three. In England you don’t have time to make preparations. You play every three days and that is not the best way. You have to make a good pre-season.
“Now he – we – has to pay attention, the little details, see if he can play one or two more games this season and next season make a good pre-season. He has a lovely family and he is incredibly well organised. We are going to speak with him to be safe, to be fit.”
Guardiola offered Solskjær support following United’s run of six defeats in eight games. “In our world, our position [as managers], I am close to Solskjær. We feel alone and that is why I understand completely his position,” he said. “It happens to all the managers around the world. That is the reality. I understand him perfectly. I support him.”
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He believes United’s 4-0 humiliation at Everton on Sunday will make them more dangerous opponents because the players will want to respond. “A little bit, yes,” he said. “It is a derby and all the times we play against United, the derbies are always special and the players do their best for the fans and the club.”
Riyad Mahrez remains part of Guardiola’s plans despite the winger not being a regular starter. “Riyad will be with us for next season and the next one and the next one,” he said. “I don’t need to speak with him. We are delighted with him and the way he plays.”