Manchester United’s title challenge will be over if they lose the Manchester derby on Sunday afternoon, according to Andrei Kanchelskis.
The Russian winger is a favourite of many Man United fans of the 1990s, his most famous moment being a wonderful hat-trick at Maine Road in a 5-0 victory against Manchester City in 1994.
He did go on to play for Man City, though, on loan from Rangers in the 2000/01 season as the Blues were relegated from the Premier League. His reputation has survived that brief spell with the Citizens.
United are eight points behind City at this stage. A win would take them a very catchable five points off their ‘noisy neighbours’, but defeat would see that margin stretch to, what Kanchelskis believes is, an unassailable 11 point gap.
“Of course, if United can win both derbies then they will have a good chance of winning the title,” Kanchelskis told The Independent.
“But if they lose on Sunday it is finished. There will be no chance.
“It will be 11 points – it is not possible. 11 points is too much.
“When I played for City, they were not the biggest club,” he said. “They were just OK and in the derby we would fight hard because United were the dominant team at the time.
“Now there is a big change. City have a new stadium and new players, new management, and you see what is happening now.
Kanchelskis’ allegiances remain firmly with United, the club he won the title with on a number of occasions. But the 48-year-old conceded that the Reds need to pull something new out of the bag to take the vital three points on Sunday.
“I hope United win because they need the three points – the eight-point gap is too much at the moment. They need something special to win this game.”
United are unbeaten in 40 home games. The last team to beat them at Old Trafford? Manchester City, in September 2016.