ASK Vincent Kompany if Manchester City have done enough to be called the best team in Manchester, and he will tell you to come back to him – in 2027!
“A shift of power? I’d like to see us dominate for another 10 years before I say that,” he smiles.
“At the moment, I’d say it’s about 55-45 in our favour, based on recent results.
“City fans started that debate when we beat United in the semi-final of the FA Cup in 2010.
“In recent years, we’ve had the edge, but it has still been tight enough to call it close.
“When our owners came in, they wanted to make us a huge club.
“At the same time, there was a massive gap at United when Sir Alex Ferguson retired. So as we developed, they had to re-build.
“It’s normal when a person with such a big influence on a club for so long leaves, there will be an enormous job to do.
“It was always going to take them a few years to steady the ship.
“I played against Ferguson’s teams and I have nothing but respect for what he achieved.
“There was never a game when United were not the dominant side. They were a class apart for a long time.
“Since then, they have changed because they’ve had different managers in place. They have made a huge investment to try to close the gap on us, and fill the void left by Ferguson.
“I want to be super-cautious because we haven’t won anything. We are just a few points ahead of them.
“Everything else – the style and how we play and how we get the results – won’t matter until we have some silverware to show for it. That’s why I am reluctant to say there has been a shift in power.”
It might be difficult for fans to keep a lid on such talk, should City extend their lead at the top of the Premier League after today’s Old Trafford derby.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won 13 League games on the trot, and a 14th would not only break the current record, but also give them an 11-point lead over their closest rivals.
When Kompany joined City from Hamburg back in 2008, United had just won the League, finishing 32 points ahead of their neighbours, who were ninth. But despite City becoming one of the world’s biggest-spending clubs – and fast-tracking themselves into a position of potential European, as well as domestic domination – the skipper still identifies the Manchester derby as the biggest game of all.
“I am very clear that this is always the most important game of the season, and I don’t care what anyone else says,” Kompany insists.
“People like to downplay it, but they do that to try to take the pressure away.
“No matter what you say, something physiological – that’s out of your control – kicks in.
“A manager doesn’t have to ask for 110% from his players. He gets 120%. It just happens. The consequences are always bigger when it is a derby than any other game.”
Kompany’s personal priority will be handling Romelu Lukaku, a player he will be alongside when Belgium try to win the World Cup next summer.
“I rate Romelu really highly,” he says. “He came through the academy at Anderlecht, the club where I grew up. I saw his potential, and I’ve seen him evolve over the years.
“He is such a hard-working, dedicated forward that he’s almost a perfect striker for any manager.
“When you put his statistics up against anyone else, you realise what a frightening prospect he is.
“People have spoken about him having a dry spell, but I’ve noticed how his overall involvement has improved.
“He has the fact that he’s a good goalscorer in the bank. So I say this is a serious guy.”