Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has warned his players to be ready for ‘Fergie time’ at Old Trafford on Saturday – and not let Cristiano Ronaldo out of their sight. The Portuguese legend has been the star of several injury time escape acts for Manchester United this season. Against Villareal in September his 95th minute strike pulled a win out of the fire and at Atalanta this week a 91st minute equaliser rescued a point.
In between those two smash and grabs he scored a late winner in the 81st minute at home against the Serie A side.
So after seeing his attempt to bring Ronaldo to the Etihad gazumped by United in the summer, Guardiola is wary of becoming the latest sucker punch victim.
And, ahead of the derby, he has warned his side to be on their guard once the clock goes into the red zone.
“We have to be ready the last minutes of the first half and the second half, I’m pretty sure they will call Sir Alex Ferguson to install the ‘Fergie Time’,” said the City boss.
“I think it’s going to happen.
“They also bring physicality to the game and they have people with ability to win games up front, good runners in behind especially when Bruno Fernandes has the ball.
“They are so good up front already and now with Cristiano Ronaldo they are better.”
Guardiola is still touchy about Ronaldo slipping through City’s fingers and clearly does not want to be stung twice by the Portuguese twice inside three months.
Asked to assess Ronaldo’s impact at United he was short to the point of grumpiness.
“I don’t talk about other players at other clubs but I’m pretty sure he’s happy at United,” he said.
The irritation stems not only from the snub but from the failure of City’s heirarchy to deliver a striker in the summer despite chasing both the Portugal star and Harry Kane.
And while the City boss points to lots of goals scored without a recognised No 9, this season it has been feast or famine.
In 17 matches City have not been shy in front of goal scoring 41 goals but all of them have come in 12 matches and there have been five shutouts.
“Maybe in the future we will sign a number nine who doesn’t score goals, who knows,” said Guardiola.
“But we are who we are. I’ve spoken many times about this. We wanted to (buy a striker) and couldn’t do it.”
City enter today’s derby as hot favourites but Guardiola has warned fans a repeat of United’s 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool is unlikely on two counts.
“We cannot play like Liverpool play because we have different players and different ways to play,” said Guardiola.
“We are going to try and play our game but we have different qualities in a different way.
“And maybe if United played Liverpool again they would play in a different way it would not be the result they had at Old Trafford because everyone learns from it.”