Ralf: This is the biggest challenge so far
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick believes that this weekend's Manchester derby is an opportunity for his side to confirm the progress that has been made over the last few months.
Since Rangnick took charge in December, the Reds have lost just once in the Premier League and will put an eight-game unbeaten run in the competition on the line at league leaders City on Sunday.
Although United haven't always picked up the desired amount of points in each of those games, as the boss also stated in the second half of his press conference, his team's performances have regularly shown promising signs at both ends of the pitch.
Prior to Saturday's fixtures in England's top flight, no Premier League club had created more chances than the Reds since the German's arrival, while we are also joint-third in the clean-sheet ranks over that time.
Now, Rangnick says that Sunday's derby will be a litmus test for United and thus a chance to mark our recent progress.
“For us, it’s confirming the development of the team in the last three months," he said in the second half of Friday afternoon's press conference.
“We’ve been unbeaten for the last 11 games [in normal time], we haven’t lost a single away game since I arrived, but we know this will be the biggest challenge so far.
“We haven’t played against a team of that kind of quality. It’s about confirming [our] development on Sunday against one of the best teams in the world.”
Despite the hosts' form of late, which has seen them lose just once in the Premier League since November's reverse fixture, the German is confident in his side's ability to go to the Etihad Stadium and get a result this weekend.
“On paper they seem to be favourites," he said. "But games are not decided on paper. They are decided on the pitch.
“I’m convinced we can win the game, that we can create moments where we create chances ourselves, but it’s highly important that we don’t let them dominate the game as they did in November (when City won 2-0).”
Our interim boss goes on to acknowledge the task ahead of his Reds before explaining what it will take for us to have a chance at bringing a positive result home.
“We have to be as compact as we can be,” he said. “We have to play as much as a team as we can.”
“It will be challenging for us; we will have moments in the game where we have to chase the ball, but this shouldn’t happen all the time.
“All the teams that managed to do that, like Arsenal, like Southampton, also at times like Tottenham, had their moments [against City]," Rangnick added.
“It is about being on the front foot, being courageous and creating moments where we can put them under pressure. This is what the game will be all about.”