Scott Patterson: United would take a point, but there’s life in the old dog yet

It’s a huge weekend as Manchester’s big two as they go toe-to-toe at the Etihad Stadium and Scott Patterson feels United have a fighting chance…

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It’s been a fairly busy week for Jose Mourinho, between the FA making the bizarre move to appeal the decision that found their charge of abusive language ‘not proven’, and him getting a shock result against Juventus in the Champions League.

During his press conference in Turin ahead of the game, he was asked about his opinion on the latest reports alleging the extent that rivals Manchester City have gone to in order to bring success to the club.

Der Spiegel have made some shocking claims about the corruption behind the scenes at the club which has seen them escape scrutiny under FFP rules. Interestingly, the club has yet to deny it.

When you consider how quickly City released a statement to reject the claims they had offered to treble Lionel Messi’s salary a few weeks ago, it’s suspicious that they’ve remained so quiet over these claims.

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When asked about the “growing storm” surrounding the four-part allegations, Mourinho batted the question away. “The storm is outside, it’s raining a lot,” he replied with a smile. “We feel at home.”

Of course, the media weren’t going to let him get away with it that easily, so pressed him for further comment. “I have thoughts from a few years ago, but I keep the thoughts to myself,” he said.

He is likely biding his time, waiting for a more opportune moment to give his real thoughts, so managed to bite his tongue on Tuesday night.

At the time, with the potential of being on the receiving end of batterings by two superior teams during the week ahead, Mourinho was likely glad of the distraction.

When you consider how his long-term rival Pep Guardiola has outspent everyone during his time at the club, and the silverware that came last season as a result, Mourinho will be loving news that their success is tainted.

However, if United come away from the Etihad after suffering an embarrassing result, as many will predict, City’s FFP story won’t be filling the back pages, Mourinho’s face will, just as it was following the win in Turin.

Everything is always all about Mourinho. His decision to march on to the pitch, cupping his ear in response to the abuse the Juve fans had given him over the 90 minutes, received plenty of criticism.

In all fairness, it was hardly the most of insulting gestures, but it received the levels of attention we’ve come to expect from anything related to Mourinho.

“I probably shouldn’t have done it, and with a cool head I wouldn’t have done it, but with my family insulted, including my Inter family, I reacted like this,” he later reflected.

But it’s not the way Sir Alex Ferguson would have behaved, and while he was far from perfect himself, he will remain the barometer for expectation, and he would have been able to control himself.

That said, this is the way Mourinho is and has always been, and plenty of United fans loved it.

They remember all too well how angered they used to feel by him when he was the manager of other clubs, so to know how upset rivals supporters were with him was very satisfying.

Social media came alive with supporters bemoaning Mourinho’s “lack of class” and United supporters were gleeful in response.

They will also be encouraged by the performance and result against Juventus though.

They looked so much better drilled than they did in the Old Trafford game and, while they were fortunate that Massimiliano Allegri’s side had been wasteful with their chances in the first half, again showed the fighting spirit that has seen them come back from a goal behind on a few occasions in recent weeks.

This same mentality was on show the last time United travelled to the Etihad to face City, when they overturned a 2-0 score line to win 3-2 in the second half. City had to take down their celebratory fireworks from the roof of the ground and chuck their ‘we did it on derby day’ t-shirts in the bin as a result.

Can history repeat itself though? It’s almost beyond doubt that United will go at least a goal behind before they start playing, as has been the case in several of their games this season.

The question is whether United have enough to overcome the pressure Guardiola’s team will put on them.

Lyon, who are currently fourth in Ligue 1, are the only team to beat City this year.

The United squad can be motivated by the fact that Juventus were unbeaten in all competitions before they came to town, and will be looking for a repeat against their fierce rivals.

Truth be told, United would be happy to leave the Etihad with just a point, which is a big indication of how times have changed between the Manchester clubs since Sheikh Mansour’s arrival.

But there’s life in the old dog yet and United fans will be hoping that their team and manager can do them proud again at the weekend.

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