Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has admitted that Manchester City are the favourites to win the Manchester derby on Sunday.
United have the home advantage and won 4-2 against Manuel Pellegrini’s City in the two side’s English Premier League clash at Old Trafford last season.
But, having looked at the league table, Van Gaal argued that leaders City, with a goal difference of plus 16, is nine better than United, who are two points and two places below the Etihad Stadium outfit.
“When you look at the facts, they are first and we are third,” the Dutchman said in a news conference.
“There is a goals difference, a points difference so they are the favourites, I think.”
Van Gaal was impressed by the way City came from behind to beat Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
“I think that that it is a good signal for a team,” he said.
“I would be pleased also of course when we are doing that and we are doing that also. We were also behind against Wolfsburg and we beat them.”
Van Gaal believes United are a much better side now, but admits he will only be able to determine his side’s improvement at the end of the season.
“I’m happy that we are more balanced in our selection. If you can compete [with City] we have to wait and see,” he said.
“Of course we have started very well when you compare it with last year but when you compare [us] with Manchester City we are two points behind.
“We were first at the table then lost at Arsenal. We have to wait and see if we can develop as a team.
“We have more young players in our selection than last year and we have to develop ourselves. Only at end of the season we can say if we have minimised the gap with our competitors.”
Van Gaal has declined to say how long he thinks striker Wayne Rooney can carry on for, with the United captain turning 30 on Saturday.
He added: “It is dependable on the player.
“You cannot preview that. It is dependable how he lives, how strong he is, how ambitious, it is dependable on a lot of factors. We have to wait and see.”
Defenders Paddy McNair and Luke Shaw will be again sidelined due to injury while winger Ashley Young is back in training, although he is not enough to feature.