Ex United and City winger Peter Barnes expecting close Manchester derby

City were among the first clubs to make contact with the Ivory Coast worldwide and he had been set on moving there until Jose Mourinho phoned him up - not that he believed it was actually the Portuguese manager, though.

The duo's absence will be keenly felt as United continue to push for Europa League glory and a top-four finish, but did not impact Jose Mourinho's men at Burnley. They play Spanish side Celta Vigo in the semi-finals next month.

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With Man City and Man United distant form the Premier League title race, the fervour around the Mourinho-Guardiola rivalry has diminished.

Wayne Rooney has scored a record 11 goals in Manchester derbies but none of them have come in his last five games. That was an afternoon when Mourinho, against the expectation of his many critics, showed that he still had it within him to pull off a tactical triumph. "I trust the boys and we go with everything we have until the last second of the season, we hope". Yet that victor came only after severe knee ligament injuries to Zlatan Ibrahimović and Marcos Rojo.

He might just have the edge this time round, with United having finally reeled in the top four after a 23-match unbeaten run in the league dating back to a 4-0 loss at Chelsea on October 23.

In January, he rejoined Burnley after a successful stint with the Premier League club in 2015-16 and has played 13 league games this campaign, scoring once.

Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are both expected to be OK, having been substituted with minor problems in Sunday's defeat, although David Silva is a major doubt.

Barnes said: "I am sure United and City will strengthen in the summer".

Mourinho got his own back six weeks later when United beat City 1-0 in the fourth round of the English League Cup. "They have still got a lot to play for and they would love to finish in the top four above City and Liverpool". The damage to Guardiola's standing if City fail to qualify for the Champions League would take some repairing, considering the "sky's the limit" expectations he arrived with.

"I'm not interested in the speculation and if the player [De Gea] is, he shouldn't be", said Mourinho.

"The training session starts at three o'clock but when I arrived at half past ten this morning, some players were already here, taking care of little details, taking care of their recovery, going to the swimming pool, taking care of their body - that's motivation".

  • Stacy Allen