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Richard Dunne: United’s defence does not inspire confidence

UK Sport | Published:

Former Manchester City centre-back Dunne believes rivals Manchester United are weak at the back.

Former Manchester City captain Richard Dunne has claimed United’s defenders are not up to scratch on the eve of Sunday’s derby.

Ex-defender Dunne suggested United manager Jose Mourinho will be eyeing the January transfer window as he needs an upgrade on Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof – the latter a Mourinho signing at a cost of £31million from Benfica.

Speaking to 888Sport, Dunne said: “Since the days of (Rio) Ferdinand and (Nemanja) Vidic United have struggled to get a settled two and I’m sure as soon as Mourinho has the opportunity he will change the two he has now for different ones.

“At the moment he has Lindelof and Smalling but they don’t inspire confidence throughout the team and as soon as that transfer window opens I’m sure they will be out looking for centre-backs again.”

In contrast, Dunne pointed to City’s most regular central pairing, and suggested John Stones and Aymeric Laporte could go on to dominate in a style different to that seen before.

“They are very different to when you go back over the years to the centre-back pairings that United had,” Dunne said.

“Vidic and (Jaap) Stam, Steve Bruce and (Gary) Pallister even. They were tough tacklers whereas the two City have – who are the only two centre-backs that Pep (Guardiola) has bought – are completely within his profile of ball-playing defenders.

“They don’t seem to be in positions to need last-ditch tackles. Instead they read the game really well and obviously with the team they have ahead of them – and Fernandinho in particular – they are not under so much pressure.

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“This brings its own issue though because they need to concentrate all the time and remain switched on.

“The understanding that they’ve got could make this a long-standing partnership and certainly the most successful in Premier League history.”

United travel to the Etihad on Sunday already trailing their neighbours by nine points, but hoping to continue their strong record on the east side of Manchester, where they have not lost since 2014.

Though United have enjoyed some good derby days of late – and hold the bragging rights after last season’s dramatic 3-2 victory which put City’s title celebrations on hold – City have held the upper hand in terms of league finishes ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left United in 2013.

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And Dunne does not see that changing, at least as long as Guardiola – who is signed up at City until 2021 – remains in charge on the blue side of town.

“As long as Pep is there and as long as they’re playing the way that they are you would fancy Man City over Manchester United every single time,” Dunne said.

“There has been a shift in the city over who is the most dominant team and City have the brighter future. Whether they admit it or not United are coming into the game on Sunday as underdogs.”

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