Manchester derby: Erik ten Hag admits there is a lot to learn from City's success

United manager says team will try to chart their own path as rivals prepare for Sunday derby

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola, left, said he has a lot of respect for Manchester United and their manager Erik ten Hag. AFP
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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said his team can learn from Manchester City's success, but added his side will not try to copy their methods.

United travel to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday for the Manchester derby with their opponents once again the favourites.

City have increased the gap between the clubs, culminating in their historic treble last season, and with a good chance of more trophies this term.

A restructuring of United's football hierarchy is under way following the investment made by Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos Group. Omar Berrada, from City, has been brought in as chief executive at Old Trafford.

United are currently sixth in the Premier League and while success and consistency might seem some way away, Ten Hag remains confident.

Ten Hag said: "I think you can always learn from opponents who are successful and you have to do it if you want to go to high levels but, at the same time, we have to do it in a United way.

"This is a different club with a different environment, with a different DNA. But you pick up things that can be successful and you integrate it in your own model."

Ratcliffe had earlier stated that his ambition is for United to knock City and Liverpool "off their perch" in three years.

United are currently 15 points behind second-placed City but Ten Hag said he welcomes Ratcliffe's targets.

"It helps," said the Dutchman. "We have to show ambition. We want to be the best and that is what United stands for. But, at the same time, we know also where we are now.

"We also have seen that there are moments where we go toe-to-toe. That's the belief we have as a team. We have to pick up these moments and we have to prove it in every game. I think we are able to with this squad we have."

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola says he is expecting the "best" from United even though City start Sunday's derby as red-hot favourites.

City have won five of their past six matches against United in all competitions and look set to close the gap on league leaders Liverpool who are four points ahead.

Guardiola, whose team are chasing a second consecutive trophy treble, said he will not be taking United lightly.

"I expect the best from United, but I don't talk about what they do, about opponents that I respect too much," he said on Friday.

"I don't want people to misunderstand my words."

He added: "I know them and have a lot of respect for the institution, United of course, Erik (ten Hag) and the players but when I see what we have to do my players will know it today and tomorrow."

Guardiola said despite United's disappointing season, they still carry a threat.

"In one action they create something special in set pieces, in transition, in open play, connection between a few players and they score goals," he said.

"Always United have been that way. When they play good they win games, when they are OK they are, no stress, they are able to win games.

"We are in March already, 2024, they lost just one game, last week at home (against Fulham)."

Updated: March 03, 2024, 5:30 AM