It’s not been plain sailing for the Manchester clubs so far in the Premier League.
Manchester City flew out the blocks, but have withered in recent weeks with their shambolic defending. As for Manchester United, the Red Devils seem to be converting their draws into wins now, yet still have a long way to go.
Nevertheless, the Citizens remain favourites to finish highest in their own city for the fourth consecutive season. That’s unless your name is Robbie Savage, of course.
Savage is no stranger to odd and controversial claims, yet the 42-year-old remains a reputable pundit. While his career never set English football alight, this is a man who brushed shoulders with Paul Scholes in the United academy.
Moreover, he hasn’t shied away from commenting on the team that laid the foundations for his own career.
In his weekly column for the Mirror, Savage defended United by penning: “On current form in the battle to rule Manchester, Jose Mourinho looks like a man on the march while Pep Guardiola is only shuffling.
“I have been far more impressed with Manchester United over the last six weeks than with Man City, who have stalled after making such an impressive start in the Premier League.”
Nevertheless, while Savage seemed rather confident in his claim, he was equally keen to play down United’s title chances.
The 42-year-old conceded: “I tipped United to win the title back in August. “Sadly that is going to be beyond them, because the 13-point gap to Chelsea at the top is too much to make up.
“But as I also said in this column last week, I think the worst is over for Mourinho at Old Trafford now.”
Therefore, in the view of Savage, United may lack a tangible title challenge, but are almost certainly out of the woods. There seems to be a newly installed excitement around Old Trafford that could see them kick on this season.
Furthermore, he was enthused to reiterate the importance of Michael Carrick. After all, if United are to topple their city rivals, they might just need their English stalwart to maintain his fantastic form.
Savage highlighted: “The stats don’t lie. United’s record with Carrick in the team this season is remarkable: 12 appearances, 10 wins, two draws. In 13 games without him, they have won only four.
“With Carrick holding the fort, Paul Pogba is beginning to look like a player no longer weighed down by his world-record £89million price tag and Ander Herrera has played his best football for the club under Mourinho.”
Whether or not the 35-year-old will be able to inspire United to a top four finish is unknown though. What is for sure however is that the Red Devils, if they continue their revitalised form, are a team to be feared.
They may come up second best in the title race, but not necessarily in their own city. Pep Guardiola might need to keep checking over his shoulder, period.