Pep Guardiola claims he cannot afford to get caught up in the hype surrounding this weekend’s Manchester derby.
The Manchester City manager has attempted to play down the significance of the champions’ much-anticipated trip to face United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Much of the attention in the build-up has surrounded United and the position of their under-pressure manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Guardiola says he has paid no attention to it.
The Spaniard said: “I don’t feel it because when I wake up in the morning and come here, in this bubble, this training centre, I’m here for 10, 12, 14 hours and then have to go home.
“I’m not going to the restaurants or the pubs to drink a beer and know the atmosphere.
“I can imagine how important it is for both sides – this emotion is nice, to try to win the derby and do well – but I have to be cold in my mind, I have to be cold in my head, to know exactly what we have to do to do our best.”
Guardiola raised some eyebrows ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Club Brugge by saying the game against the Belgian side was more important than the derby.
He qualified this by saying it was because the Brugge game was the next one, and therefore the most pressing, but he remains keen to downplay the significance of the United fixture.
“We try to make every game important,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference. “Of course derbies are special for the city, for many sentimental issues, but in the end, it is not a final or a semi-final. It is one more game.”
Despite City having enjoyed greater overall success than United in recent years, it is the red side of Manchester that has had the edge in derbies over the last two seasons.
United have won three of the last four Premier League meetings between the clubs with the other being a goalless draw.
Guardiola said: “Congratulations to United for winning these duels against us, or some of them.
“They have a lot of physicality, a lot of talent and people up front with the ability to win games by themselves.
“It’s Man United – what should I say? Since the last century they have always been a good team with the quality. But it is a new season, new games.”
City were heavily linked with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo before he rejoined United in August.
Guardiola said: “Normally I don’t talk about players for other clubs. I am pretty sure Cristiano Ronaldo is happy at Man United and United are happy to have him. That’s all.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe