Man Utd v Man City: What are the big issues going into Manchester derby?

The 186th Manchester derby at Old Trafford will be more than just a local pride show, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still in intense scrutiny as Manchester United's boss.
The game is being framed by United’s terrible 5-0 home loss to Liverpool two weeks ago. This has created so much uncertainty about Saturday's hosts.

Solskjaer and United will have to accept another loss against a big rival very soon. City's early-season form means that defeat can have serious consequences.

Both sides won one game in three matches last season, with one being drawn. United has won four of the seven last competitions while Pep Guardiola, City boss, has won five from eight derbies at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer can't win another game, and what impact would a third loss on the visitors' title hopes?

Is Solskjaer riding the pressure wave?

United's problem is that Liverpool's defeat is so large that nothing can be taken as a given.

United sources claim that everything is calm and that the club remains behind Solskjaer. However, if Guardiola's side were able to inflict similar-sized punishments, Solskjaer would be unable to survive. This is especially true considering that many of the people who backed Solskjaer in the face of massive criticism now feel his tenure must end.

United has also placed themselves in a position where any negative outcome is likely to cause an overreaction.

The Champions League draw with Atalanta on Tuesday drew a flood of negative social media comments and inquiries. The Italian team beat Liverpool last season, and drew with Manchester City in the previous year.

A different context would have seen United's draw as a positive, and the late Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser as a commendable sign that they refused to lose when they were not playing well.

Instead, the focus is on the apparent absence of a gameplan and more comparisons to other coaches' systems.

United's executive team, headed by Ed Woodward (outgoing executive vice-chairman) and the Glazer family, may have given Solskjaer admirable support, but it is still far from over.

United will beat City to level the points. United could be relegated to 10th place if they lose.

These positions reflect the uncertainty surrounding Old Trafford right now. Given Antonio Conte's transition to Tottenham at the moment, United may have to make a major change in the wake of the Liverpool disaster.

Can City afford to lose more ground in title race?

City's title defense is in serious trouble after last weekend's defeat at home by Crystal Palace.

They are currently five points behind Thomas Tuchel's team, despite beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last September. Their goal difference is also nine points lower than Chelsea.

City is now two points ahead of last season's total after just 10 games. It was widely believed that their start had been slow. City lost only three points in their 19th match after drawing their next two matches.

Guardiola's side may need to repeat the same run to keep their crown. With Chelsea leading, they are likely to surpass the 86 points City scored last season. They dropped only five points in 10 games.

It is not clear whether this is possible, as Guardiola failed last summer to secure the striker he desired. City tried to sign Harry Kane but was unsuccessful in City's efforts to sign him.

City has clearly proven to be successful with a false nine, both in the last and current seasons.

Guardiola spoke before about the unique abilities of top strikers. He is someone who can sense chances and spot them, as the ex-Balermu Munich coach said.

Guardiola has a lot of problems to face with Kevin de Bruyne still not at his best, Jack Grealish producing in short bursts and not on a regular basis since his record 100m transfer form Aston Villa. These issues go beyond Guardiola's claim that City receive no 'help' after his midweek win over Club Brugge, which he didn't elaborate upon despite being asked repeatedly.

Is it possible that the City's loss on Ronaldo will come back to haunt them.

Guardiola was also asked by United to evaluate it after the Club Brugge victory.

Although he admitted that he hadn't seen the Atalanta match, he said he knew about their greatness and that they had 'one the greatest players in history, a guy who is a scoring machine.

Although it may take some time to know for sure how close City came to signing Ronaldo in August, It is clear that the club was in for Ronaldo. It is also certain that United made their move only when they realized it was possible for one of their most-respected players to join them.

Guardiola was looking for a striker, and Ronaldo was available, so it is reasonable to assume that he would have liked him. There are two schools of thought about his on-field performance since his return to United.

One option is to look at his 11 goals and the impact they had - late wins against Villarreal, Atalanta and Tuesday’s brilliant stoppage-time effort in Italy to earn a draw - and to declare the case closed.

There is another school. Solskjaer had assembled a team of young, quick players capable of carrying out the high-press many clubs, including City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, prefer.

He spent 73 million on England winger Jadon Sáncho and he also persuaded Edinson Cvani to stay at the club. This meant that he had the experience to help the youngsters.

Ronaldo's arrival effectively tore up this template. For a start, Sancho and Cavani were used sparingly.

Ronaldo is 36 and cannot push in the manner the modern game demands. Ronaldo is a player who's effectiveness comes from his possession and not out of it.

Sir Alex Ferguson's first stint as a club manager saw him switch Ronaldo from centre-forward to Wayne Rooney out wide, believing that he would not be lacking in the defensive aspect of the game.

Many former players cited United's incoherent media as the main reason they were hammered by Liverpool.

Is Ronaldo really saving United or just saving United in an unfortunate situation where his presence was a key factor in their placement in the first place?