Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal insists he has no reason to be jealous of Manchester City’s stellar squad.
Van Gaal may have invested more than £150million of United’s money in the transfer window, but after six years of almost non-stop spending, City have a squad which is the envy of most clubs in world football.
Manuel Pellegrini has almost two internationals to pick for every position on the pitch.
For this Sunday’s derby at the Etihad Stadium, the City boss can call on flair players like Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure in attack while at the back Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta are among the best in the Barclays Premier League.
In the build-up to the derby, many pundits have more City players in their combined Manchester XIs than United, but Van Gaal is not resentful of the players Pellegrini has at his disposal.
“I am not jealous of the squad of Manchester City,” Van Gaal said.
“I am proud of my players and that is the most important thing and when we play like a team then we have a big chance to win.”
Van Gaal’s men may have snatched a creditable draw against Chelsea last weekend, but the fact remains that his team are still a long way off realising his aim of winning the Barclays Premier League.
And they were dealt a blow on Friday when Radamel Falcao was ruled out through injury.
United, who have Wayne Rooney back from suspension, have won just three times so far and sit 10 points below the summit with almost a quarter of the season gone.
Van Gaal admits he needs to record a big win to boost morale among the squad and the supporters, who are still reeling from last year’s shock seventh-place finish.
“We are waiting on that boost because that can give you more than only the result,” Van Gaal said.
“We have played very well against West Brom and we played a draw against Chelsea, nobody expected that result but for me it was not enough and maybe the result against Manchester City shall give us that boost.”
Although Van Gaal has had his troubles, five miles across town, Pellegrini is starting to feel the heat.
City stretched their unwanted winless streak to three matches on Wednesday when they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Newcastle.
And there is the impression that Van Gaal thinks City, who are four points above United in the table, are there for the taking.
”It is not the greatest moment of Manchester City,” he added. ”What we have seen of Manchester City in the last matches was not so good.
”We have a good feeling about this match. Our spirit is unbelievable.
“I think we shall grow and develop ourselves. We need a good result and it could be against Man City.”
Van Gaal is equally aware City will be looking for the same kind of lift this weekend.
The Blues can make a bit if history too as a win will see them record their fourth successive derby win – and that has not been achieved in 44 years.
After a presentation by his assistant Ryan Giggs earlier this week, Van Gaal and his players are aware of the importance of this match to the club, the fans and the city.
Van Gaal is aware tensions will run high, but he will remind his players before they step out onto the turf that they must not let their emotions get the better of them.
“We don’t want a red card because when it is 11 versus 10 it shall be very difficult to win this game so (talking about that) has also been a part of our preparation,” Van Gaal added.
“It is one of the 38 matches we have to play but, for the fans, it is unbelievably big as a rivalry.
”I have felt that, also with a lot of the players in the squad but especially with Ryan Giggs.
”Ryan Giggs presented the analysis of Manchester City, and I felt more tension (about the derby) with him. It was good to see that.
”He knows it, he has the experience as a player and now maybe as an assistant manager.”
Van Gaal laughed off suggestions that playing Rooney was a risk due to an apparent foot injury he was alleged to have suffered in training.
“He was never injured,” Van Gaal said. “I don’t have any doubt to play him.”