This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on beIN Sports (as quoted by The Manchester Evening News), former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has suggested his old club is now “miles ahead” of Manchester United.
The Red Devils’ last Premier League title triumph remains the campaign in which Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013, with City going on to dominate domestic football ever since. Pep Guardiola’s men have on won back-to-back occasions in the last two seasons, and are looking for the hat-trick this year.
And, according to De Jong, whilst United’s historic profile means they are still a huge club, City have simply over-taken their rivals in most aspects since the departure of Ferguson.
He said: “I think Man City are miles away now. I’m not talking about how big the club is and how it compares to United in the world but if you talk about structure wise, player wise, philosophy wise, I think they are miles ahead.
“I think it all comes down to the fact that since Fergie left, there has been a big gap and people realise how important he was for this club. I think City just took the opportunity and took not just one step but two steps, three steps ahead of them. And it’s still going. As long as United can’t replace things and get any better, City will just go on and move away from them. It’s the same thing with Liverpool.”
De Jong was known for his crunching, no-nonsense tackles in his playing days (who could forget that karate kick against Xabi Alonso in 2010), and unfortunately for United fans, his similarly brutal verdict on the club’s plight is also hard-hitting. The Red Devils have fallen into a mire since Ferguson’s exit, and the chopping and changing of both managers and players has certainly not helped at all.
Meanwhile at the Etihad, the likes of Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola have simply made the team better year-on-year, whilst there appears to be a long-term philosophy in place. The permanent appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford earlier this calendar year perhaps finally represents a sign that the club’s hierarchy have a vision for the future. Whilst City may be “miles ahead” now as De Jong suggests, United will be intent on reducing the distance as soon as possible.