Pep Guardiola has backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite Manchester United’s troubled start to the season.

Victory for Manchester City in Saturday’s derby would stretch the gap between the rivals to 14 points and heap the pressure on Solskjaer’s shoulders.

But Guardiola insists he’s been impressed with the Norwegian’s approach and is wary of the threat posed by United after watching their 2-1 win against Tottenham midweek.

Asked for his assessment of Solskjaer’s reign, he said: “(He’s done) well, good. I’m not there to know. It’s difficult for me to judge my colleagues, I don’t know how they work.

“It’s uncomfortable for me. I think he’s an exceptional person but I don’t know.

“I judge the qualities of the players, incredibly fast and set pieces with (Harry) Maguire. They have good players and believe in what they do. I’ve been impressed.”

Speaking ahead of the game Solskjaer chose to remind Guardiola of the traditional balance of power in English football by referring to City’s days in the lower rungs of the league.

“At least we play every year now,” said the United manager. “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself.”

But Guardiola claims history will count for little on the day.  

“It’s Man United,” he said. “I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. It’s always United.

“Normally here we speak about what happened in the past, the recent past – everything has changed. I couldn’t care less and tomorrow is 5.30pm kick off and the players decide who is going to win. 

“United have huge history and their quality is always there – but we must try to beat them. I speak to my players to see how to beat them.”

Sergio Aguero will miss out due to a thigh injury, but Aleks Zinchenko is back in contention after recovering from knee surgery.


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