Manchester City’s form since the turn of the year has not been good enough and the club face a big rebuilding process this summer, according to ex-player Danny Mills.
Speaking to MM ahead of this afternoon’s Manchester derby, Mills also described Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal as ‘a marmite character’ and declared that the title race is over, with Chelsea sitting seven points clear at the head of the table with a game in hand.
However, the ex-England international refused to be drawn into making a prediction, stating that the latest meeting of the Mancunian giants was too close to call.
“I’m going to go 2-1, but I’m not picking a side,” said Mills. “It could go either way – it really is that tight!
“I just think it’s so unpredictable. United have great forward players and City’s defence isn’t brilliant.
“But Yaya Toure could come out with something special, Aguero could score a couple, Joe Hart could do something fantastic. It really is so finely balanced.”
Whilst City were neck and neck with Chelsea at the turn of the year, a torrid 2015 has seen them lose three consecutive away games, and seven in fifteen overall.
As a result, the defending champions find themselves in fourth, behind their Old Trafford Rivals, Arsenal and leaders Chelsea.
And Mills, who was speaking at a National Football Museum event to promote blind football, thinks that his old club need to stop the rot with a win against their big rivals on Sunday.
He said: “City will be desperate to right the ship as it were. Their form in 2015 hasn’t been good enough to win the Premier League.
“[City manager] Manuel Pellegrini has come under an awful lot of pressure, but form goes out of the window a little bit in a derby. City need their big players to step to the plate.
“You’ve got to play James Milner. How his contract situation has been left as it is… he could walk away at the end of the season. Frank Lampard is likely to walk away, Yaya Toure – there are mooted rumours that he could leave.
“It’s going to be a big rebuilding process for Manchester City if those players do leave.”
Meanwhile, United have won their last five games to find themselves above City in the league – a place not many would have expected them to be after the travails of David Moyes’ tenure at the club, and the transitional period Van Gaal had to negotiate this year.
But with players such as Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini all impressing in recent weeks, the Old Trafford club is beginning to regain a sense of impetus that has been missing since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Mills said: “Louis Van Gaal is a marmite character, you love or hate him. He’s quite abrasive in what he does, he upsets a lot of people, but his track record speaks for itself.
“At the moment, his remit was to finish in the top four, and that looks a certainty.
“It hasn’t been the most attractive football at times, they’ve had their ups and downs, they’ve had their wobbles but he’s in the top four and Manchester United will be able to build from here.”
Regardless of whether the two teams are merely ‘jostling for position’ now that the title race is all but decided, Mills still classes the clash as ‘massive’, and thinks that the two teams will be keen to avoid fourth place, and with it the ignominy of a Champions League qualification campaign.
But one thing is for sure, whether the two rivals are fighting for silverware or sundries, the fans – and the players – will be determined for their team to come out on top and claim the Mancunian bragging rights for another few months at least.