Manchester City need to stop being silly & finally get over their derby day woes

Sean Walsh
Pep Guardiola has an abysmal record in this fixture
Pep Guardiola has an abysmal record in this fixture /

For the last decade, Manchester City have tormented every team in England that have dared to cross their path.

The sky blue half of town have five Premier League titles to boast in that time, memorably kicking off that run of domestic dominance with that final day at the end of the 2011/12 season, striking firmly into the hearts of Manchester United and elevating themselves to genuine rivals rather than just the noisy neighbours.

Ironically, United have been the inferior side in the league standings in Manchester in eight of the nine years that followed. In fact, all eight of those instances have come on the spin since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

But despite this rather inverse and lopsided dominance, United still don't fear travelling to the Etihad Stadium.

Since Ferguson moved upstairs, City have somehow only beaten their most bitter of foes in three of their ten meetings at home. Pep Guardiola has prevailed once in his six attempts to navigate United at Eastlands.

It's easy to write Guardiola and co's similarly woeful recent form against Tottenham - brought back into the limelight following last month's meeting - as a mark of a 'bogey team', but that's not an excuse that will wash in what are regularly the biggest games of City's season.

It's very hard to question the mentality of a team who have been so dominant, but their struggles to put their closest neighbours to bed are definitely a blot on City's recent record. How can you fail to seal the 2017/18 title against a miserable Man Utd? How can you not beat any iteration of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's sides at the Etihad? For all of United's recent shortcomings on and off the pitch, why can't City overcome them when it seems easier to do so than to humiliate themselves?

Sunday's battle might be the most tactically intriguing ever between these two rivals. In all of Guardiola's years in England, he's never faced a competitor in the red corner as complex as Ralf Rangnick.

There'll likely be long and drawn out analysis of the derby on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football, a joy for the neutrals to delve into as the intricacies of Sunday's duel are picked apart. Guardiola can't afford for it to be remembered as a day in which his team were out-played and he was out-thought.

City need play the game and not the occasion if they're to keep Liverpool at arm's length in the title race. The sooner they're able to treat Man Utd the way they do any other fodder to walk into the Etihad, the better for their season hopes.

But if you were going to back any team to stop this rut, it would be Manchester City.

This article is part of 90min's Rivals series