boss Erik ten Hag has dismissed suggestions that summer signings and Lisandro Martinez may need to be educated on the significance of the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils have recovered from a poor start to the season with four wins on the bounce and can move to within two points of rivals City – with a game in hand – if they win at the Etihad on Sunday.
United’s line-up is usually full of academy products and long-serving players who fully understand the importance of delivering a big performance on derby day, though Ten Hag’s new-look team has a number of players yet to experience what it is like to play City.
Chief among them are Martinez and Antony, but Ten Hag has no concerns about the South American duo and says it is in their nature to approach every match as if it is a derby.
Asked if the Argentine and Brazilian understand the significance of the Manchester derby yet, Ten Hag told Sky Sports: ‘Yeah. Don’t be worried. They know that.
‘They know how big a game this is. But what’s good from them is their approach in every game is to battle, to give everything, 100% is not enough.
‘You can be sure that they will bring not just 100%, they will bring even more on the pitch. But not only them, all the players are aware of this game and the importance of this game.’
Martinez faces perhaps the most difficult opponent of his United career to date when he comes up against Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland.
There is a sizeable height difference between the two players – with the diminutive Argentine’s height the only question mark hanging over him – but City boss Pep Guardiola does not see it as an advantage for Haaland.
Asked whether City might exploit the height difference, the Spaniard replied: ‘Erling is taller, that’s for sure.
‘But I like it when people underestimate football players for their size. He can tell them: I’m here, I’m a good player, I can play everywhere. He’s a fantastic player, incredible build-up, aggressive and you’ve seen his behaviours.
‘If United spend this money for him, because Erik of course knows him from Ajax, there is no doubt about that.
‘It’s not the first time he’s played against taller strikers than him. In Holland I’m pretty sure there are big one strikers and he handles it. Important is to be intelligent, be brave. But of course in the box, the crosses in that position Erling is taller, that’s right, so we’ll see what happens.’
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