Pep Guardiola believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s methods are starting to shine through at Manchester United.
United’s form in Solskjaer’s first full season in charge at Old Trafford has been indifferent but Manchester City boss Guardiola can see what the Norwegian is trying to do with his side.
United have enjoyed some impressive results in recent months – not least beating Tottenham and City in the space of four days last month – but there have also been frustrating losses at the hands of Watford and Arsenal.
That has left them five points off the Premier League’s top four, and 13 behind City, ahead of another meeting between the neighbouring sides in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s first leg at Old Trafford, City boss Guardiola said: “I think he starts to see in his team what he wanted. That is my feeling when I see his teams.
“Even the last game against Arsenal that they lost, we see clearly what he wants.
“It was not easy to handle a team, take over a big, big club always demanding to be champions in all competitions, but I think every manager needs time and I have the feeling that United are starting to play the way he wants.”
Guardiola saw first hand how devastating United can be on their day when they met at the Etihad Stadium early in December.
United tore through City’s defence numerous times, particularly in the first half, and could easily have won more convincingly than 2-1.
Asked what he learned from that game, Guardiola said: “How fast they are, how they run on the counter-attack, how solid, how aggressive they are.
“We conceded a few counter-attacks in the beginning and in just two or three seconds they were in the box, so they have incredible pace and talent to do that.
“But in general the game was good. We created chances and unfortunately we could not win.”
City are bidding to win the Carabao Cup for a third-successive year and a fifth time in seven seasons. The last time they lost in the competition was against United in the fourth round in October 2016.
Guardiola said: “Three semi-finals in a row. It is not the biggest competition in the world but it is nice to be there again and against our city opponents, so it is nice to be here.
“We played just one game in the competition and arrived in the last stages. Now we are in the semi-finals we have to try to win it.
“But this is two games, not just one and we play the first leg away. We have to try to play good to get a good result for the second leg at home.”
Guardiola has no doubt the Manchester derby remains a hugely-important fixture for fans despite their growing rivalry with Liverpool.
He said: “I know for the years I was not here we were the noisy neighbours. Now I don’t know who we are.
“I have not been here for one century, many years, to feel how for our fans what it means to play Liverpool, but I know what United means to Man City fans.”