Ronny Johnsen's Expert Tips: Manchester United to win derby

Manchester United’s 4-2 victory against Leverkusen proved that Moyes’ much talked about lack of experience is simply irrelevant. He’s got a team of players with an extensive experience from both national sides and Champions League. Just look at Wayne Rooney – he bagged a brace against last season’s No 3 in the Bundesliga. 

I could’ve hoped for some more activities in the transfer market, but we should keep in mind: United didn’t lose any players in the transfer window. They’ve actually strengthened a team that won the league by 10 points margin last season. I believe United can defend the Premier League title. 

As much as the Fellaini purchase was predictable, he got great reviews on the back of his debut agains Crystal Palace, so he might well turn out to be a good buy. 

I still feel the club could’ve done more to bring in other players. Not because the present playing staff is sub-standard – Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher are all competent enough. I’m just worried the squad might be a tad thin - there are already doubts as to whether Fletcher will play again.

Keeping Rooney was important. When he’s firing on all cylinders he’s a guarantor for United success.  

The talk about a conflict with Moyes is just rubbish - they’re both professionals. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Wayne Rooney has got a new spark under the new regime. The former Everton manager is already being praised by his new players. 

The pieces in the puzzle seem to have fallen in place very quickly for Moyes. At least Moyes had to learn how to swim immediately. The club have had some tough opening games this season – against teams like Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League and Leverkusen in the Champions League. Add Sunday’s local derby against City into the mix and I feel it’s fair to call it a baptism of fire. Despite playing some of the hardest teams I think United have done pretty well. Results that would’ve been impossible to get if there was unrest and turmoil. 

As for City, if you’ve got ambitions of winning the Premier League title you simply can’t afford to lose games to the likes of Cardiff. I would, however, be very careful pointing fingers in the direction of Pellegrini. The Chilean has taken both Villareal and Malaga far in the Champions League, but he should know all about expectations from his time at Real Madrid. His Los Blancos side picked up 96 points in La Liga in the 2009/2010 season. Problem was that Barcelona finished with 99. 

I believe City’s main problem is down to Vincent Kompany being out injured. The summer acquisition Martin Demichelis is confirmed out for several weeks – even before he’s kicked a ball. 

This derby is special in the sense that both clubs have won the Premier League in the past two seasons, and they are expected to battle it out for the title this season too. Both clubs have new managers on the sideline and of course it’s their first Manchester derby. 

But these games live a life of their own – regardless of new players, managers, weather or form. The whole season builds up to these matches, with the sports pages packed with stats and enormous expectations among the clubs’ supporters. Manchester is perhaps special in that families are often divided by those loyal to City and those with a red heart. 

I don’t think it’s likely that Moyes will make wholesale changes from the team that beat Leverkusen. The team’s central line seems to have settled now, but Rooney is a given regardless of Moyes’ would-be alterations. 

The big question is always whether it’s about winning or avoiding losing. In the Chelsea game both teams approached the match with a ”safety first” mentality. But a match like this can explode when there’s a goal. As I’ve said previously, when United play away they often leave entertaining to the home team. Kompany might not be in action Sunday, while Rooney is on fire. This smacks of a United victory. 

It’ll suit United to sit back and wait for the chances. They will present themselves at some point and Rooney and van Persie will be ready to capitalise. I think the match ends 2-1 to United. 

Best Bets

Manchester United to win 2-1 til Manchester United at 11.0

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie as scorers at 3.5 and 2.55