MANCHESTER, England — As statements of intent go, it couldn’t have been much bigger.
“If we only consider this season,” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said, “there is just one club in Manchester — and it’s ours.”
That comment — an eye-catching one from a coach usually so reserved in front of the media — was made last month ahead of a Champions League game against Barcelona.
To some, it was a mere statement of fact. To others, it was unnecessary goading.
And it undoubtedly hit a nerve over at Manchester United — a club that is the reigning English champion and had ruled soccer in the city for the past three decades.
For that reason, United might take even more pleasure than usual if it can beat City in Tuesday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
“Well, Manchester United had lots and lots of seasons of domination,” Moyes said Monday, when asked about Pellegrini’s comment. “I don’t think if I was a manager I would have turned round and necessarily said that we were the only club in Manchester because football does change, it goes in cycles.”
“I think it’s important for us to show the level we’ve got,” Moyes added, “and that we’re not as far away as many people would have us.”
For the first time in a generation, City will head across town as the favorite to win at Old Trafford. United occupies seventh place in the standings after a turbulent first season under Moyes and City, to many, is the team most likely to be raising the Premier League trophy May 11.
Pellegrini’s side is six points behind first-place Chelsea with three games in hand. If it wins its remaining 11 games, City cannot be stopped.
“We always expect to go and win,” said a confident Pellegrini, whose first Manchester derby ended in a 4-1 victory for his side in September. “It’s not just because Manchester United has had a difficult season (that) we are going to go there and win.”