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David Healy: Rooney will be cream of Manchester

Manchester will be the place to be on Sunday. Having lived there for several years I know how passionate the United and City fans are, especially when they are facing each other.

There is a theory, put about by City supporters, that there is far more blue in Manchester than red with most United fans coming from outside the area.

City followers, for instance, love to talk about the Cockney Reds!

I’ll agree that United have support all over the world, including London, and of course back home in Northern Ireland there are thousands and thousands of Red Devils, but in my experience I would have to say it is 50/50 in Manchester.

The thing is while slagging off United for all their “outside” support, that’s exactly what the chiefs at Eastlands want for their club — to make them a global brand.

That’s the “project” that they all keep talking about.

They have certainly put the money in to try and achieve that ambition. Within football, they have been viewed like Chelsea a few years back when Roman Abramovich came on the scene and started splashing the cash.

Chelsea weren’t liked for it then, and City haven’t exactly made themselves popular recently either, being seen as bullying people in the transfer market.

They have targeted certain players and gone out and got them, be it Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz or Joleon Lescott. My old boss David Moyes was fuming with City’s pursuit of Lescott. The Everton manager made no bones about how he felt City had unsettled one of his key players.

United have seen all this before of course and dealt with it. Chelsea may have won titles in 2005 and 2006, but United have won the last three and remain the dominant force in English football.

That’s what City want but you can bet your life Sir Alex Ferguson will do all in his power to make sure it doesn’t happen.

In my book City have a good manager in Mark Hughes and they do look a good side — remember Tevez has hardly featured and Santa Cruz hasn’t played at all but they are still unbeaten and looked superb against Arsenal last weekend.

They’ll miss the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor at Old Trafford but Craig Bellamy is in brilliant form and will be a pain for United’s defence, while Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gareth Barry are top players.

Defensively City are much improved with Kolo Toure a shrewd signing and they have one of the best goalkeepers around in Shay Given, who when he played for Newcastle against United won the man of the match award about 95 per cent of the time.

Shay will be busy again on Sunday with Wayne Rooney giving him plenty to do.

I know he was upset — and showed it — when he was substituted in the Champions League in midweek but that’s him. He wants to play every second and gets angry when he doesn’t or when he thinks he hasn’t the influenced the game the way he knows he can.

Rooney’s performance last week at Tottenham was outstanding. United were down to 10 men but it didn’t show because Wayne was playing the role of two men. He was amazing and inspired Ferguson’s side to an impressive victory. He'll have a big say in this match too. I don’t think there will be many goals in it, but Rooney could be the difference in a United win.

If United and City weren’t playing Chelsea’s match with Spurs would be the one everyone was talking about.

Chelsea are doing just about enough to win every game they play in at the moment. And I’m tipping them to do the same against Spurs, who are missing the injured Luka Modric.

It’ll be a decent game at the Bridge, but the clash at Old Trafford is the one to watch.

Belfast Telegraph


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