Jaap Stam gives Manchester United derby hope but identifies big Man City change

Former Manchester United center back Jaap Stam has highlighted the gap between his old club and Man City ahead of the derby on Sunday.

Stam played for the Reds between 1998 and 2001, leaving the Theater of Dreams for Lazio. While in Manchester, Stam won three Premier League crowns, a Champions League and an FA Cup but admitted the current United side is a long way from that success at present.

Speaking on the UTD Podcast, Stam said that City have improved greatly since his playing days in England. He explained: “At the time, the whole situation was different, of course, with City from where they are now.

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“City, at that time, were like, yeah, a team in the league and, of course, there was a rivalry between the two of us. Who was strongest in the city of Manchester? Everyone knows who that was.

“At that time, without a doubt, it was United. I still think they can be but the only thing is City have come from far away and been growing, been developing and playing a certain way, with quality players and a certain manager with his philosophy.

“They’re on top of the league, at the moment, for several seasons now.”

Despite the gap that he believes has been created in recent years, the 49-year-old did not rule out United gaining a result on Sunday. “You can never guarantee not winning [the game, despite the table]we’ve seen with Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] when we won against City,” he added.

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“Of course, it’s good for the club, the manager, the players and the fans to win this game. Especially for the fans, it’s very important.

“The only thing is and I find it very important winning this game but also, if you win this game, you also have to make sure you’re winning all the other games as well. Football is not about one game, it’s being consistent throughout the entire season.

“At the end of the day, winning that cup is what the club needs to aim at and what we need to take as our priority. That’s not meaning we can lose on the weekend against City.

“No, the rivalry is always there and you have to always make sure you beat that team.”

Although he admitted that beating City was important, Stam also claimed that matches against Liverpool and Arsenal had more weight back when he was at Old Trafford. Stam said: “Against City, Liverpool was a different Liverpool at that time but higher rated than City and the rivalry was there because, I think, both teams were competing for the highest prizes.

“United and Liverpool, together with Arsenal. City wasn’t City [now]they were still there but a little bit up and down and finding their stride and where to go.

“I think sometimes with relegation as well. When we played and prepared for Liverpool, it was a different feeling, at least for myself, than when we needed to play City.”

Sunday’s Manchester derby kicks off at 4.30pm at the Etihad Stadium.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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