Don’t think for a second that Manchester United will go to Eastlands this Sunday looking to hold out, absorb pressure and take a point. They will be looking for blood thirsty revenge, the sort of humiliation that Manchester City dished out to them at Old Trafford last season. The effects of a United win could be internally damaging for the current Premier League champions.
City will be well aware of their short comings in terms of the Champions League and Mancini has enough experience to make sure that all of his players are focused ahead of this weekend’s match. However, the side will be suffering because there was talk among some football communities that City would stroll to a European and Premier League double this season.
“I don't think there will be a problem with morale. We didn't lose the Champions League tonight - it's clear that tonight we lost the chance to qualify for the Europa League. But I think that after that, it is important that we only think about the derby. We have five days to recover our strength, and then I don't think there will be a problem,” said Mancini after the defeat away to Borussia Dortmund.
He’s perfectly right, every one of his players will be up for the derby but the morale problem could kick in if United get any win, regardless of style, this weekend. A busy Christmas and New Year period is coming up and City have many players who may resent not having a winter break.
The immediate effect of a defeat against United will be to work harder to compensate for the problems which may appear in the massive Premier League fixture. This could frustrate players who are used to winding down at the start of December and heads could start to drop as City may need to add into the mix that they are six points behind in the title race.
Of course a win makes all of this irrelevant and the only negative thing the club will have to endure are Mario Balotelli’s predictable snow and Christmas related pranks at the training ground.
Low morale can have a negative impact on a club because it causes players heads to go down. They don’t play with the same energy or the same determination and results can suffer. The impact of this would put City further and further behind United in the title race and Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t going to let his side lose any sort of lead over the course of this season.
image: © Andrew Brannan