It is derby day in Manchester on Sunday and Darren Fletcher is aware of best too smartly how tricky a travel to Etihad Stadium will also be.
The former Manchester United midfielder was once thrashed 7-2 there whilst taking part in for Stoke ultimate season and, having skilled “one of the most difficult games of my career” that day, is smartly conscious about how no longer to play in opposition to the champions.
He is hardly ever the one one to have continued a troublesome day on the Etihad despite the fact that – City have best misplaced two times in 44 house Premier League video games below Pep Guardiola, profitable 33 of them and scoring 122 targets.
But United are one of the crucial two groups to have gained there in opposition to Guardiola within the league, thank you to their exciting three-2 comeback victory in April, and Fletcher believes there is some way his previous side can line up to get some other certain outcome this weekend.
What no longer to do vs City: ‘The gaps was massive’
Fletcher: “We were given it flawed that day. We in fact attempted to press City prime up the pitch and the issue was once the sport was too stretched.
“Not everybody within the crew purchased into it, and no longer everybody adopted the directions – and that is the place threat comes.
“Some of our gamers pressed, however some did not and the gaps was massive. It ended up turning into a crisis. There had been too many areas, and likewise too many gamers.
“City had all in their gamers within the midfield space, losing in between the strains, and we had too many of us in spaces that would no longer impact that.
“Stoke had were given some extent at City the former season taking part in the similar method however that day we were given it flawed and we were given punished for it. As a participant, to be in the market and be a part of that, was once no longer a pleasing position to be.
“It was once terrible, in fact. Looking again now, it was once some of the tricky video games of my occupation.”
What will United do? ‘Inbetweeners in a circle press’
Fletcher: “I’m really not anticipating United boss Jose Mourinho to use a prime press like Mark Hughes did with Stoke ultimate season and once more with Southampton when City beat them 6-1 on Sunday.
“I believe Mourinho will set them up to be very cast, however no longer to sit down as deep as they in most cases do.
“Instead I believe they’re going to use what I name a circle press, or a part-method line press, the place you aren’t too deep however no longer too some distance ahead both.
“So numerous your gamers are perhaps 10 yards both side of the centre-circle, because of this you are attempting to be somewhat bit courageous together with your line of defense and you’ve got additionally were given your strikers in a long way.
“That method, there are not any large areas in the midst of the pitch for City to exploit.
“If United’s defence is upper than commonplace, City can simply play balls excessive – so the placement of goalkeeper David de Gea is necessary too.
“His defenders can have to accept as true with him to be in the best puts to maintain sure balls so they don’t seem to be anxious about City’s forwards entering into in the back of.
“If it works, United’s outfield gamers can be in a type of in-between place, the place they are able to be a risk at the counter-assault but additionally put somewhat of drive on City when they’re at the ball.
“That is what they did so smartly in the second one part after they went to the Etihad on the finish of ultimate season, and fought again from 2-zero down to win three-2.”
Long ball City? ‘They like to ping a move ahead’
Fletcher: “Whatever your technique is in opposition to City, you might have to watch out as a result of they’re an overly artful crew.
“People assume they play overall soccer out from the again however their gameplan is in fact to get the ball into their entrance gamers as briefly as conceivable.
“And, no matter house there is to exploit in the market, they exploit it.
“If you place too many gamers ahead to press, they’re going to play that onerous, lengthy and occasional ‘ping’ move ahead, which is other to a typical prime lengthy ball as a result of it is more difficult for a defender to get there first. Ederson is a grasp of it.
“They need their 3 entrance gamers to pass one-on-one if they are able to and, whoever is taking part in of their assault, they’re going to again themselves to beat their guy as a result of they’re so rapid and skilful.
“Everywhere at the pitch, the stability of the place to pass attempting to find the ball or drop deep when you find yourself taking part in them is so laborious to to find. If you get it flawed, they’re going to punish you.”
City’s key guy? ‘Silva is their Scholesy’
Fletcher: “City have such a lot of unbelievable gamers however there is person who is extra influential than the entire others when it comes to making them tick, and that is David Silva.
“When you play in opposition to them, you’ll be able to see Silva has were given the honour of the entire City crew.
“I’d relate it to how my United crew was once with Paul Scholes. You would on occasion be in a just right place your self but when ‘Scholesy’ was once there, you might simply give him the ball.
“You would possibly assume to your self that is loopy for a qualified footballer to admit however, when it occurs, that is without equal appreciate.
“Everyone did it with Scholesy, no longer simply me. I’ve observed gamers like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney do the similar if Scholesy was once unfastened, and simply give it to him.
“It occurs naturally when you find yourself out at the pitch, and I see it occur with Silva now.
“Yes, Raheem Sterling is arguably their shape participant and is so unhealthy along with his runs, and the way he penetrates defences and will get in the back of them.
“And they’ve Sergio Aguero too, who is all the time the sort of risk, however Silva is the only for me who is the heart beat of that crew.”
How to prevent Silva? ‘Herrera will also be United’s hero’
Fletcher: “I slightly like guy-for-guy marking as some way of forestalling a key guy for the opposition, and it is one thing I’ve achieved myself in my occupation.
“But I did it in opposition to what I’d name vintage midfielders – gamers extra like Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard.
“The downside with doing that in opposition to City is that, in case you guy mark David Silva, he is slightly comfy dragging you in all places the pitch, understanding what you are attempting to do.
“He will pass and stand at the left wing, so you are going to be taking part in proper again. And then, say, Leroy Sane will come within and your proper-again can be taking part in within the centre of midfield.
“United have to check out to prevent Silva someway, despite the fact that, and for them to do this, I believe Ander Herrera has to play.
“Having been within the United dressing room with him, he is a kind of gamers who recalls the whole lot the executive says, and is continuously reiterating the ones issues to the remainder of the crew.
“Not each and every participant does that, as a result of a few of them are so tied up within the sport themselves, however Herrera does no longer simply bear in mind his function, he recalls other folks’s too.
“He is that influential to the entire crew, plus he is competitive and he can set a pace for United after they get the ball again.
“I like him and I would have him in the team because he would play an important role. He could go up against Silva and make it a difficult game for him, which does not happen very often.”