Manchester United will finish second in the Premier League table this season, above rivals Manchester City, according to commentator Ian Darke. United have not ended a campaign above City since they last won the title under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. But Darke has questioned the mentality of Pep Guardiola’s side ahead of the new campaign.
City lost nine Premier League matches last season as they finished 18 points behind champions Liverpool.
They were still 15 points clear of United in third but Darke believes the impact of Bruno Fernandes in the second half of the campaign proved how good the Red Devils can be this time around.
Fernandes is yet to lose in his 14 Premier League appearances and has scored eight goals and added seven assists.
“Yep, absolutely [City will finish third],” Darke told ESPN FC.
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“I think Manchester United with Bruno Fernandes, and I still think they might get Jadon Sancho, improved a lot.
“In fact Bruno Fernandes hasn’t lost a league game yet in a United shirt. I think they could finish second.
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“I don’t see why [City] are favourites, they lost nine times in the Premier League last season.
“What’s changed so much in their DNA? I think there’s something in their mentality where they do slip up.
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“Yes, they’re a great side when they’re really on-song but they’ve got a lot of convincing I think of the neutrals to do that they can grind it out week after week in the way Liverpool did.
“Liverpool, Klopp calls them his ‘mentality monsters’, yeah there are nagging doubts, the defence doesn’t look great since they won the title, but I think once it starts all over again, I think Klopp’s going to be really wound up to foil Pep Guardiola again and Manchester City and to do it all over again.
“So for the third year running I’m going to put Liverpool to win the title.”
However, former West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop reckons United still have issues and cannot rely on Fernandes.
“I understand about the Bruno Fernandes impact but quite clearly that can’t continue,” Hislop said.
“Just when you look at the squads pound for pound, I think they’re the fourth best in the league. As a result, I’ve got them fourth.
“Do you really think we’re going to be talking about a 2020/2021 season that goes undefeated with Bruno Fernandes on the park? No it can’t.
“I still don’t think that they are that good defensively, they still have issues around David de Gea.”
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