Manchester, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
Liverpool midfielder James Milner (pictured) will be supporting Manchester United for the first time in his life, but he will avoid watching their clash against City.
Wednesday’s Manchester derby shapes as being vital in the Premier League title race, with Jurgen Klopp’s men two points clear at the top but City holding a game in hand.
Milner, a former City and Leeds United midfielder, said he would be supporting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. “First time in my life,” he said. “But I won’t be watching. It’s a bit of a waste of energy, willing the ball in the other goal.
“I can’t do anything about it. I’ll maybe put my phone away for a few hours and check it after. I’ve no idea what I’ll do, maybe go out for some food.”
With three games left, Liverpool are up to 88 points and could finish the campaign with 97 but still not win a first league title since 1990.
While Liverpool have matches against Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves left, Manchester City will meet Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion after the derby.
“There’s three games left after that [derby]. People think United is a challenge, but it’s not the only one,” Milner said. “It’s an old cliche, but the Premier League is tough – whoever you play, teams battling at the bottom.”
Meanwhile, even by the rarified atmosphere of Manchester derbies, there will seldom have been so much on the line for both sides of the city when Manchester United host Manchester City.
For City, the Premier League title is at stake with Pep Guardiola’s men needing to win their remaining four matches to be sure of becoming the first side since United a decade ago to retain the title.
Those days of dominance are long gone for the Red Devils with just a place in the top four and Champions League qualification their target.
However, United also have to restore some sense of pride after a 4-0 thrashing at Everton on Sunday. Defeat at Goodison Park was United’s sixth in eighth games, a run that has seen them crash out of the Champions League and FA Cup, as well as slip back down to sixth in the Premier League.
But with Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea also faltering, they remain just three points off the top four. The momentum and feel good factor built up by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first few months in charge has gone.
Now the Norwegian, only hired on a permanent basis last month, has to show he has the ability to arrest the slump even before a major restructure of his squad takes place in the summer. -FOTMOB