• Premier League

'I was surprised how bad United were'

ESPN staff
March 25, 2014
ESPN FC's Ian Darke believes that City will come out on top of the Manchester derby despite United's recent turn of form

Fernandinho has taunted Manchester United ahead of tonight's derby by admitting he was surprised how easily Manchester City rolled them over earlier this season.

City thrashed United 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium in September, with goals from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri, as well as two from Sergio Aguero.

The match was indicative of how the two sides' seasons would pan out, with United currently struggling in seventh place in the Premier League while City are challenging for the title.

Fernandinho is also expecting more of the same tonight at Old Trafford.

"It was the first time I'd played them after joining City," Fernandinho said. "It's a club with a lot of history, with very good players, they were the champions - so I was surprised at how badly they played that day and how easily we won.

"We will go there expecting to win but we know that in a derby a lot of things can happen."

The midfielder's words echoed those of his manager Manuel Pellegrini, who admitted he has been surprised by United's decline this season.

David Moyes' side enter the derby 12 points behind City, with Pellegrini saying he thought at the start of the season that United would be in the top three.

He said: "All the other clubs expected United would be in the first positions in the table. For different reasons at this reason they are not but they continue to be a difficult team."

Pellegrini admitted he feels sympathy for Moyes, who replaced Sir Alex Ferguson when he retired last year having been at the United helm since 1986.

He added: "It is difficult because [for] so many years, the same person manages a team and with new ideas. It is difficult to analyse not knowing it from the inside. But it would always be difficult to replace Alex Ferguson."

Pellegrini said in February that City are now bigger than United but insisted his comments only related to a season when his side, unlike their local rivals, have won silverware and are challenging for the title.

He explained: "I meant in this season, the best team is Manchester City because we are at the top of the table - but at the same moment I said we must recognise what Manchester United have done in the last 20 years."

City have been boosted by the news that Edin Dzeko, who missed the 5-0 win over Fulham because of an illness, is available again. The striker trained on both Sunday and Monday.

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