GRAEME SOUNESS: Not a SINGLE Man United player would get in Man City’s team ahead of FA Cup final
I’m not saying this for any reason other than I believe it to be true – no Manchester United player would make the Manchester City starting eleven at this point.
In fact, going further, I believe any of City’s substitutes at Wembley today would strengthen United’s squad. City have better players in every position – from one to eleven and beyond. This won’t make me very popular in the red half of Manchester, but I’ve thought about it for a long time.
People can challenge me and say, ‘What about Bruno Fernandes? What about Marcus Rashford.’ Okay, where does Fernandes play? Instead of Ilkay Gundogan? Kevin De Bruyne? No chance.
The same goes for Rashford. He’s not ahead of Jack Grealish or Bernardo Silva. I would also have Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden ahead of me, who are not in City’s strongest squad at the moment. Rashford has scored three Premier League goals since February. This is the business end of the season, your big players should make the difference.
United midfielder Casemiro is a very good player and has done well, but is he better than Rodri? Come on. Again, no chance. There are a handful of United players who would make City’s squad, but no more than that.
Manchester City are much stronger than their city rivals and will dominate the FA Cup final
I wouldn’t put Marcus Rashford (left) or Bruno Fernandes (right) in City’s starting line-up
Mail Sport’s Graeme Souness argues that City have better players in every position – from one to eleven and beyond
Despite all this, and here comes the very big ‘but’, it doesn’t mean United can’t win today. I don’t think they will, but Wigan beat City in 2013 and that’s the incredible unpredictability of our game.
What do I think will happen? City will dominate the ball, play in United’s half, have the vast majority of chances and win. The fact that it’s a derby doesn’t change that. It just doesn’t come in, especially for City.
In these big cup finals, all I thought about was those who I would be up against and who could hurt my team. I went into these games with a certain nervousness and that brought out the best in me. There was no fear, but a dread. One mistake can cost you, your teammates, the supporters and the club a trophy.
That’s your focus, not a derby. There may be a lot of talking in the build-up, but on the day itself it is a game that everyone watches. Parochialism has been taken out, this is a world stage.
City will not be distracted from next weekend’s Champions League final either. They are too good for that, too focused. They want to be history makers and I think they will. However, this will be the tougher of the two finals. I suspect they will blow Inter Milan away in Istanbul.
City have been good enough to win the Champions League for years. They should have done it long ago. They’ve got United and the rest out of the way and are on their way to becoming one of the best club teams we’ve ever seen.
Yes, they have the deepest pockets, but other clubs – including United – have also spent a lot of money, but nowhere near as good as City. Their recruitment went very well. And that’s the biggest reason why they are so far ahead of United.
Our job is to make it sound more complicated than it is, but it’s as simple as that: they’ve been buying better players over a longer period of time.
City will not be distracted by next week’s Champions League final if they are looking for a historic Treble
Casemiro (right) is a fine player, but doesn’t put a glove on Man City’s Rodri in midfield
United have suffered for 10 years because their recruitment was not good enough. For too long they let non-footballers make big football decisions. The Glazers have come in for a lot of criticism, but they have funded managers to the tune of £2bn since they bought the club. City spent about the same amount in that time.
United is one of the biggest football clubs in the world. They can always attract the best players. But they’ve had a terrible time by the high standards set under Sir Alex Ferguson. That is difficult for fans to accept. Since the departure of Fergie and CEO David Gill in 2013, their dealings in the transfer market have been a mess.
I would need a whole other column to describe all the things United need to overtake City, on and off the pitch. Because with their stature and resources, they should be a challenge for the Premier League and Champions League every season.
At the moment they are half a team away from close range and a full team away from a Manchester City match.
United have suffered for 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure because their recruitment has been poor
HAALAND’S BOOTS ARE NOTHING NEW
I read in this newspaper on Thursday about Erling Haaland’s boots and how they weigh so little and ‘fit like a slipper’. That’s nothing new, my boots felt the same over 30 years ago!
Towards the end of my career, they started making them from kangaroo leather, and that was a breakthrough. You didn’t know you were wearing them, they were paper thin and ripped faster. But I never thought they increased the risk of injury, they were good boots.
That said, I was sponsored by a certain company, only I wasn’t too thrilled with the boots they made. So I would buy a pair of adidas boots and have them redesigned with the logo of the brand that paid me! It’s been a long time, so I can attest to that now.
However, I certainly didn’t earn the £19.3 million Haaland earns!
Erling Haaland broke numerous records on his way to the golden boot with 36 league goals
His own boots cost £244 and weigh just 204g which is less than a pair of hake fillets
The synthetic material is a world away from the old leather of yesteryear, but it remains sturdy
YOUR GENEROSITY HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE
I have been blown away by people’s generosity and response since announcing last week that I would be swimming the Channel as part of a relay team to raise money for charity.
We’ve had patients with Epidermolysis Bullosa, the life-threatening skin condition, contact us to say they no longer feel left behind and isolated. When you hear that, it makes everything worth it. They felt like no one cared, that they suffered from this horrible condition and were ignored.
I’ve been privileged all my life and working on Sky over the past 15 years has helped immensely, in terms of my profile. I owe them a lot in that respect. Lindsay from DEBRA, the charity of which I am vice president, coordinated everything for me and she has been a true soldier in this. The money raised is already incredible.
Hopefully this reinforces the power of football when it comes to helping others.
WHAT HAPPENED IN BUDAPEST WAS UNACCEPTABLE
As a referee you expect flak as most matches have a winner and a loser.
But what happened to Anthony Taylor and his family this week as they left the airport in Budapest was totally unacceptable.
He had refereed a pretty spirited Europa League final between Sevilla and Roma. But Roma boss Jose Mourinho should be extremely disappointed with his own actions, after abusing Taylor in the post-match car park.
Then to see Taylor and his family targeted by Italian supporters at the airport the next day was shocking, crossing a line.
Referee Anthony Taylor was ambushed at Budapest airport by angry Roma supporters
Jose Mourinho was furious after his side’s latest loss and later confronted Taylor in the parking lot