Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel, who also spent a season with Manchester City, believes the latter are now a ‘bigger club’ given their position as the reigning Premier League champions.
City clinched a second title in three seasons last term while United endured their worst campaign in a generation, limping to seventh placed finish having sacked manager David Moyes after only 10 months in the job.
Louis van Gaal is now at the Old Trafford helm and will take Manchester United across to the Etihad Stadium for the first time this weekend, and victory for his side would move them to within one point of their rivals after 10 games played.
It would be a notable scalp in this brief Manchester United reign of Van Gaal, an assertion that Schmeichel reinforces given his belief that City are now a club of greater standing than the Red Devils.
"In my first couple of years [with United] I didn't understand [the rivalry]. Liverpool and Leeds were the much bigger," Schmeichel told BBC Sport.
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"Now it's different. Man City are the champions, they had their second Premier League win last season and maybe at the moment they are a bigger club than Manchester United in terms of results so the significance has changed."
The two sides meet with each having experienced differing fortunes in their previous fixtures, with United having recorded a morale boosting draw with Chelsea and City being unexpectedly beaten by West Ham.
This draw with Jose Mourinho’s side at Old Trafford, with Robin van Persie scoring a last gasp equaliser, actually did a favour for City after they had been defeated 2-1 at Upton Park the day before.
Chelsea could have opened a gap of eight points over City had they been able to defeat United, but Van Persie ensured the runaway leaders were reeled in just a little. But, of course, this favour could be undone only a week later if United are able to leave the Etihad with maximum points.