City United: Evolution of a Rivalry

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Manchester City won the league 19 points ahead of their bitter rivals United last term but Mourinho feels like it was a great success when he takes into account some of the criticism he faced.

Press Association Sport understands United have been keen to sign a centre-back, but Leicester's reluctance to sell Harry Maguire looks to have scuppered any move for the England star.

Indeed, players who are free agents can also be signed up until the August 31 deadline, meaning the Seasiders and Town will have no need to stress if they can't bring in any new faces before the August 9 window closes.

United's preparation for the new campaign has been badly affected by injuries and the absence of a number of players whose summer break was delayed due to the World Cup.

"It looked like I was saying something absolutely out of order, something insane, I repeat: Pre-season hard when you don't have your players to work, that's as simple as that".

Manchester City are favourites to be the first team since Neville's United to retain the Premier League, with the chasing pack hoping that a renewed focus on the Champions League might lead to City taking their eye off the defence of their title.

"When you look at Manchester City, possibly Liverpool, I don't think they [United] have the quality of those two teams at the minute", Scholes said to Sky Sports.

"I asked Pep directly, Premier League or Champions League?"

"I will have to focus on the players I have and in relation to this first couple of matches".

But this was only a "soft" closure - with some deals still able to be completed after this deadline. "[Sergio] Romero, [Antonio] Valencia, Marcos Rojo, [Diogo] Dalot, Ander Herrera, [Nemanja] Matic [are injured] and I think that's it".

The Red Devils coach has cut a sullen figure throughout pre-season with the former Chelsea boss unable to hide his dissatisfaction with Brazil worldwide midfielder Fred being his sides only high profile signing.

"They returned on Monday, trained Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today so you can imagine they are not really fit and ready but we have needs", Mourinho said.

The Portuguese believes runners-up are often portrayed as if they have been relegated and those who finish below them are presented as "serial winners".

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