Tomorrow sees the first Micro-Derby of the season between United and City with both clubs flying high in the Premier League and showing great potential in the Academy League. But while City currently occupy top spot, United lie 7th (out of 10) in Group C having won just two of their opening matches and suffering defeat three times.
United’s form has been inconsistent but promising while City have enjoyed a tremendous start to the season winning five from their opening six matches.
Form goes out of the window for a Derby and both teams will be looking to get one over the other in what promises to be a competitive game played in unusually fantastic weather conditions with Manchester bathing in unbelievably high temperatures for late September.
City will no doubt come into the game looking for an element of revenge from last year’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of United’s Academy. That day was a season turning point in February and saw the emergence of Larnell Cole as one of United’s most talented stars. He stole the show that day and stepped up in the absence of more higher profile players who were injured.
This time around, it could be another Cole who shows his potential, only this time it could be ex-Red Andy Cole’s son Devante [Cole] for City. United will definitely be out to halt City’s impressive start to the season and show the boss exactly what they learnt from last week.
Last week saw United beaten by Blackburn in a game that no doubt offered Paul McGuiness many positives but also plenty of technical issues to address in order to develop the team and the individuals. I doubt Paul would’ve been impressed with the hard-knock tackling of Blackburn last week and I imagine he’ll be hoping for a stronger referee tomorrow and a less physical approach from City.
Improvements need to be made in central midfield where United were clinically dissected when they lost possession and had to defend counter attacks. I’m sure the manager’s addressed that during the week and like the rest of us, he’ll be looking to see some progression.
Any improvements will need to be made with the possible absence of James Weir who’s suffering from a knee injury and looks likely to miss out. That could pave the way for a return to action for Charni Ekangamene. The Belgian midfielder has recovered from a series of minor injuries and could be the man to replace James. If he does start in central midfield he’ll be assigned to the holding role allowing Joe Rothwell more freedom to get into the game knowing Charni has him covered.
United will pay special attention to Jordy Mayifuila Hiwula (6 goals in 6 games). Hiwula is one of many in City’s squad to have represented England at various levels. After last week’s experiences one or two of United’s defence will be looking to rectify their disappointing performance and Hiwula could find himself up against a very determined back line.
If the defence concentrates and cuts out simple mistakes then United will look to the exceptional talents of Rothwell and Lawrence for attacking flair and inspiration. There’s no reason these two, with the help of Barmby, van Velzen and Daehli can’t create enough opportunities to win the game.
Kickoff is 11:00am at Carrington tomorrow, live coverage starts on MUTV at 10:45. I won’t be supplying my usual Twitter updates but here’s a few people who will be:
@mr_mujac @ManUnitedYouth @manutdreserves
Predicted Lineup: Jacob/Hendrie, McCullough, Dalley, Blackett/Ekangamene, Rothwell/Barmby Lawrence, van Velzen/Byrne
Subs: Pearson, Coll, Daehli, Rudge, Gorre
Thanks to Andrew from mcfcreservesandacademy.co.uk for the City info.