Jesse Lingard has told Manchester United players to be fearless and treat Saturday’s clash with Manchester City as just a normal game.
Pep Guardiola’s side, fresh from a 3-0 battering at the hands of Liverpool in the Champions League, have a chance to wrap up the title against Man United on Saturday.
That said, City’s title success has been all but confirmed ever since they claimed a 2-1 win at Old Trafford, during which United played like the away team, to take an 11 point lead at the top.
And Lingard has told his teammates to adopt a better mindset this time around at the Ethiad.
“You’ve got to see it as just a game because if you let other things come in to play it might affect your performance,” he said.
“So you’ve got to go in to it like any other game and you’ve got the lads beside you and they’re going to give 100% as long as we perform on the day we will get the three points.
“We have played there before and done well so I don’t see why we can’t do it again. The lads heads have to be right going in to that game and we have to be 100% focused on our job and get the three points, because that’s what we are playing for.”
The greatest threat to United on Saturday is not the slaloming brilliance of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, or the ruthless precision of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, or the goalscoring touch of Sergio Aguero, but rather themselves.
If they once again assume an inferiority complex at the Ethiad – like they did at Old Trafford in December – then it will quickly turn into a bloodbath. City will be feeling the effects of Wednesday and, with the Champions League probably gone, the pressure on them to deliver in this game is suddenly enormous.
Mourinho, on the other hand, essentially has a free hit, the benefit of playing the underdog role he so fervently relishes in these big games. United, above all, need to believe in the tantalising potential of this occasion, rather than the peril that could come their way.