Michelle Kaufman

Michelle Kaufman: Despite teams’ struggles, Manchester Derby is still compelling

<cutline_leadin>Man City in a funk:</cutline_leadin> Newcastle United midfielder Rolando Aarons, left, scores against Manchester City’s goalkeeper Willy Caballero during Newcastle’s 2-0 win Wednesday.
<cutline_leadin>Man City in a funk:</cutline_leadin> Newcastle United midfielder Rolando Aarons, left, scores against Manchester City’s goalkeeper Willy Caballero during Newcastle’s 2-0 win Wednesday. AFP/Getty Images

Manchester United isn’t what it used to be, and English Premier League champion Manchester City has gone (gasp!) three matches without a win, but that doesn’t make Sunday’s Manchester Derby any less compelling.

These crosstown rivals have been playing since 1881, and this latest match at the Etihad Stadium is the don’t-miss match of the weekend around the globe. United leads the historic series with 69 wins. City has won 48 times, and the teams have tied 50 times.

In the 1990s, Manchester United dominated, winning nine of 13 league derbies. But the tables have turned of late. City has won five of the past six meetings and won last year by a combined score of 7-1 — 4-1 and 3-0.

If Man City wins, it will be the first time the club wins a fourth consecutive derby match in 44 years. City looks like the favorite, with stars including Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Frank Lampard and Samir Nasri. Man City sits third in the EPL standings with 17 points, behind Chelsea and Southampton. United is in eighth place with 13 points. But City is in a bit of a funk, following a 2-0 home loss to Newcastle, a home loss to Stoke and a road loss at West Ham.

United, meanwhile, will likely get a boost from the return of Wayne Rooney, coming off a three-match ban. Rooney has scored 11 goals in 22 derby matches over his career. His high-profile teammates include Radamel Falcao, Angel DiMaria and Robin van Persie.

“It is not the greatest moment of Manchester City,” always-blunt Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal said. “What we have seen of Manchester City in the last matches was not so good. We have a good feeling about this match.”

Klinsmann ripped

Speaking of coaches who don’t mince words, Mexican national coach Miguel Herrera told ESPN radio show Jorge Ramos y su Banda on Wednesday that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t belong on the 10-man short list for FIFA’s Coach of the Year award.

“I don’t know why Jurgen Klinsman is on the list,” Herrera said. “Maybe because he’s German. That’s the only explanation we have, because he hasn’t done anything to be there. I’d say [Jorge Luis] Pinto did more with Costa Rica.”

Pinto’s Ticos were a penalty shootout from reaching the World Cup semifinals, and advanced further than the United States, which survived the Group of Death but then lost to Belgium.

Klinsmann was the surprise finalist on the list, which includes Joachim Low, who led Germany to the 2014 World Cup title, Pep Guardiola of Bayern Munich, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone. Klinsmann is the first U.S. finalist in the five years the award has been given. Three finalists will be announced on Dec.1, and the winner will be named Jan.15.

The Player of the Year finalists are: Gareth Bale (Wales); Karim Benzema (France); Diego Costa (Spain); Thibaut Courtois (Belgium); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal); Angel Di Maria (Argentina); Mario Goetze (Germany); Eden Hazard (Belgium); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden); Andres Iniesta (Spain); Toni Kroos (Germany); Philipp Lahm (Germany); Javier Mascherano (Argentina); Lionel Messi (Argentina); Thomas Mueller (Germany); Manuel Neuer (Germany); Neymar (Brazil); Paul Pogba (France); Sergio Ramos (Spain); Arjen Robben (Netherlands); James Rodriguez (Colombia); Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany); and Yaya Toure (Côte d’Ivoire).

Women’s Player of the Year finalists are: Nadine Angerer (Germany); Veronica Boquete (Spain); Nilla Fischer (Sweden); Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan); Nadine Kessler (Germany); Marta (Brazil); Aya Miyama (Japan); Louisa Necib (France); Lotta Schelin (Sweden) and Abby Wambach (USA).

Hermann Trophy

Jessy Brown, who played for American Heritage high school and the Plantation Eagles club, is a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the award given to the nation’s top female college soccer player. Brown is a senior midfielder at University of Maryland-Baltimore County and was the America East Midfielder of the Year and an All-Academic team selection. She is in second place in online fan voting for the award, trailing leader Kelsey Haycook of LaSalle. To vote by Monday, go to http://lockerdome.com/7084748774320449.

Who’s leading

MLS: East — DC (59), New England (55), Columbus (52). West — Seattle (64), LA (61), Salt Lake (56).

NASL (entering Saturday’s matches): Minnesota (54), San Antonio (49), New York (42), Fort Lauderdale (39), Carolina (37).

English Premier League: Chelsea (23), Southampton (19), Manchester City (17), West Ham (16), Arsenal (14).

French Ligue 1: Marseille (25), PSG (21), Lyon and ASSE (20), Nantes (19).

Serie A: Juventus and Roma (22), Sampdoria, Lazio and Milan (16).

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (21), Monchengladbach, Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg (17), Bayer Leverkusen (16).

La Liga: Barcelona and Sevilla (22), Real Madrid (21), Valencia and Atletico Madrid (20).

On the tube

Sunday — Manchester City vs. Manchester United (8:30 a.m., NBCSN), Sampdoria vs. Fiorentina (9 a.m., BeINSport USA), Aston Villa vs. Tottenham (11 a.m., Aston Villa), Dallas vs. Seattle (9 p.m., ESPN2)

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