It’s two days until derby day and despite Manchester United’s dramatic win in Turin, Jose Mourinho’s team will still be the underdogs when they walk out at the Etihad on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s title winners have picked up where they left off last season already scoring 33 goals in the opening 11 games of the new campaign and conceding just four.
And, if Mourinho is to go there and get a result it’s going to take some performance from United.
But, the good thing is he’s already worked out the blueprint to go and get a shock result, the same way he did in Turin.
‘Park the bus, park the bus, Man United,’ can regularly be heard from the opposition supporters and with some of the football that’s been played since Mourinho arrived you can see why.
At times it’s been negative and far too defensive when United should be going out and attacking the game.
But, Mourinho’s mentality appears to have changed in recent games. Yes, there have been some dreadful halves of football played by United this season, but, to look at the last two big games, and half of the Juventus home game, Mourinho has gone out to attack.
Take the game at Chelsea. Mourinho didn’t go there to hold out for a goalless draw, the team played to win and had it not been for that 96th minute Ross Barkley goal the plan would have worked.
And then again in Turin where United rode their luck at times and came away with a huge three points.
Those two games have shown to Mourinho that you can go into big games with an attacking game plan and come away with a result. In stark contrast to the game against Liverpool at Anfield last season, where, no matter what Mourinho argued after the game, United went to sit it out for a draw.
And the positive news for United fans is that Mourinho appears to have made a commitment to stick with his changed style.
“I think we played this season against Chelsea and Juventus away, the two best teams that we face this season,” Mourinho said. “And we played very well in both.
“In here, lucky to win in the last minute, against Chelsea unlucky not to win in the last minute. But we played very, very well and this is what we want: We want to play well, we want to go to every stadium, and it doesn’t matter the team, and we play.
“Then if they are better than us they win, if they have more potential than us, they win, if we make mistakes and pay for the mistakes we lose, but I want the feeling, it doesn’t matter where we go, we go to compete.
“And this is the feeling the Manchester United supporters around the world wants – to have that feeling; switch on the television, and it doesn’t matter where we play, they know we are going to compete.
“We will lose matches, today we could lose, but that feeling of we go to play, we go to try to win.”
The biggest challenge for United on Sunday is going to come at the back, because, as much as Mourinho looks willing to show his commitment to attack in doing so United are leaving huge spaces at the back.
Juventus could have had a number of goals before Cristiano Ronaldo scored his wonder strike in the second half but United were saved by the post, bar, David de Gea’s excellent saves and some poor finishing from world class players who could have done better.
If City are afforded the same opportunities in the derby then United could really be punished.
But, the fear of conceding shouldn’t stop United going to the Etihad with an attacking game plan. If it can work against the favourites to win the Champions League, there’s no reason why it can’t work against Guardiola’s City.