Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United remain a bigger club than Manchester City despite their rivals' recent rise.
All eyes will be on the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening as the blue and red halves of the city collide in the 179th Manchester derby, shown live on Sky Sports Premier League.
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United are 11 points behind reigning champions City, who have finished above their Manchester rivals in the league every season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, winning three titles in that time.
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But asked if United continue to be a bigger club than City, Solskjaer said without hesitation: "Yeah."
That response was to the point and shorter than an earlier answer that saw the Norwegian poke fun at City.
Solskjaer joined United as a player months after their near-neighbours dropped out of the Premier League in 1996, with City only returning to the top table in 2000 after falling as far as the third tier.
It meant the striker had to wait five years to get his first taste of a Manchester derby in April 2001.
"At least we play every year now! It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself," Solskjaer said.
"But it's changed in a way. Of course Man City are a better team now than when I was playing.
"I think football has changed quite a lot. I think it allowed a few more proper tackles - with every little angle, everything being scrutinised now, it's more of a technical, tactical game than physical and mental one.
"But, still, a derby should be played as a derby. We don't play basketball, so we're ready for that if that happens."
To bridge that gap Solskjaer believes they need to continue on this current path, although predecessors David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho suggested City's spending power made it an uneven fight.
"Don't agree," he said. "What are you going to do? Are you going to give up and not challenge them? That's what we've got to get back to."
Solskjaer knows United need to rebuild and change the culture to one with "that hunger and selflessness that most of these players are showing".
The Norwegian is confident there are the resources and know-how to do that, although there remain other issues that are harder to solve.
Paul Pogba's future is arguably chief among them on the playing side after the midfielder brought back for a world-record fee in 2016 expressed his desire to leave over the summer.
The World Cup winner worked diligently during pre-season but has endured a difficult campaign, with the 26-year-old out since September with an ankle injury as speculation swirls about his future.
"Of course Paul's going to play when he gets his fitness," Solskjaer said. "He's one of the best players in the world when he's in form.
"We just need to give him time to be 100 per cent fit. It might be 45 minutes, the first game. It might be half an hour, it might be 90.
"It depends on what game he comes back in and I'm looking to get Paul back to where I had him a year ago."
How to watch
You can watch the game live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event, with our TV build-up kicking-off at 5pm. David Jones will be in the studio with Roy Keane, Joleon Lescott and Jamie Redknapp, with Gary Neville joining Martin Tyler on commentary.
There is a whole range of options to complement and enhance your viewing experience with Sky Sports - for both subscribers and non-subscribers.
For non-subscribers, Manchester City vs Manchester United is accessible through a NOW TV pass for £9.99.
Watch the Manchester Derby live with our Sky Sports Festive offer. Buy the Premier League channel and get another channel free. Offer ends midnight on Thursday 2nd January. Find out more here.
Sky Premier League subscribers will also be able to tune in to watch the channel's coverage on Sky Go.
- iOS users: Download the Sky Sports app from the App Store
- Android users: Download the Sky Sports app from the Play Store
You can also follow our live match blog across our digital platforms, where you will be able to watch all the major incidents via our expanded mobile clips service and keep up to date with all the action, including commentary, analysis and team line-ups.
Also, this season, you can watch Premier League highlights with Sky Sports just after the full-time whistle for free and without being a Sky Sports subscriber.
Want to catch-up? Highlights and the best of all the best from before, after and during the game will also be published On Demand.
Sky Sports has 8 dedicated channels and subscriptions start from £18 a month. If you're already a Sky TV customer you can be watching live action in minutes. Plus you can choose a pack without a contract so there is no long term commitment.
Watch Man City vs Man Utd on Saturday Night Football from 5pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event; kick-off 5.30pm