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Soothsayer asks: "What is your prediction for tonight?"
I'm going for 2-2.
I actually called it right last time, for the 3-2 at City. I just didn't put any money on, sadly.
I had better get up there. Sorry to miss so many and thanks for the questions. It's a pity none of the writers go beneath the line any more, as that is one of the reasons it was started (to encourage interaction, debate etc). It's just difficult, as you can imagine, when everyone knows it's just abuse and mini-meltdowns etc. Maybe it gets like that partly because the writers no longer venture below. Anyway, enjoyed it
ilbirbone writes: "You and the Guardian journalists seem to indulge in no amount of speculation about City and Mancini's future in particular. Have any of you had a conversation with the City exec Soriano and/or Begiristain at any time? I've yet to read an attributable source."
If I can turn the question back, do you think that any newspaper source would be very pleased if I suddenly announced via a Guardian webchat who I/we get our info from?
I know it annoys people when they see articles with the dreaded 'sources' and no quotes etc but, equally, people need to stop to work out the reasons. In football, virtually everyone prefers to go off-the-record. They employ PR teams, spin doctors etc to get their message out without having to say it themselves, publicly. Why would the writer then jeopardise that contact by breaking the trust and saying where the info was from? You just need to decide which papers/journalists have good records and can be trusted, in my humble opinion
On Mancini specifically, if there was a briefing from high up at a club, any club, that a manager is on dodgy ground, that would be with an understanding that it is not written 'the club/chief exec have confirmed'. It's guidance, a briefing, off-the-record and if you want to keep that source you don't betray him/her.
As another example, an agent tells a journalist his/her player wants to leave a club. That would be written without quotes and with no trace to the agent, or the contact is finished.
The problem then is it would then immediately attract suspicion because of the 'no quotes' argument. I guess it's all about understanding the mechanics of the industry etc.
Biggerridgers asks: "Hart's suggestion that nobody in the United team would get into City's is preposterous but, in your opinion, what would the best combined XI?
Difficult. That awkward silence was me trying to work one out and I still haven't managed to include a left-winger...
Hart; Zabaleta, Ferdinand, Vidic, Clichy; Carrick, Silva, Y Toure; Tevez, Van Persie, Rooney.
(in mitigation: De Gea pushing Hart very close last six weeks, not much between Clichy/Evra, Kompany would have been mandatory last season, difficult to decide between Rooney/Tevez/Aguero and - in three minutes - absolute nailed-on certainty I've left out someone obvious.)
ThinkOn asks: What are the current wage bills of the Manchester clubs? How much in total was spent on each of the two 11's taking the pitch tonight (and if you could take inflation into the equation more the better)? It would be interesting to know just how much more Manchester City have spent to put out their team tonight in comparison to their neighbours. From all the talk we see it should be a pretty significant amount. Right?"
I'd have to check to get the exact figures – and I already suspect I'm falling behind with my answers – but there was a point last season when United's net spend was pretty low over a five-year period, less than Stoke and Aston Villa believe it or not.
On the flipside, someone at City told me a while back their info was that Rooney's new contract, with image rights and everything else, was £300,000 a week. That was from a pretty reliable source of info (and remember that City were making it their business at the time to know about what it would need to sign him... and also that Marwood and Paul Stretford go way back) but obviously it's not particularly easy to confirm on the United/Rooney side.
Legaff asks: "United are 15 points clear of City and could make that 18 by tonight, yet when you look at their squad, it still isn't amazing, is it? What are the changes that will be made to the squad this summer? There needs to be more competition for places, right?
Valencia has had an awful time lately. Young hasn't exactly set the club alight. Anderson, Nani, Scholes, Fletcher and Ferdinand could all be gone by the summer. What is the talk around Old Trafford in terms of transfers for the summer?"
United seem to have a better appreciation than City that a team that has just won the league has to make sure they kick on again (Roy Keane was signed after 1992-93, for eg, whereas City's signings last summer always looked more about quantity than quality).
Not in any particular order: I think Ferdinand will stay another year, Nani wants to leave for Italy, Anderson should be moved on, I'm not sure about Fletcher and no point pretending and Scholes is difficult to judge but, guessing, I'd imagine this might be it (again)
Ferguson's clever with the age ranges so there are a lot of young players coming through. Kagawa should be better, Welbeck will be some player when he refines his finishing, Rafael has improved a hell of a lot and DDG has been brilliant since that game in the Bernabeu.
HK1234 asks: "Mancini and many others bang on about van Persie being the difference between the two side but really there's a 15-point gap between them. It's just not van Persie. Other than Zabaleta have any other the City players played as well as they did last season? Key players such as Hart, Kompany, Silva, Toure and Aguero in particular haven't done anywhere near as well as they did last season. Mancini needs to stop crying about City's transfer policy last summer."
I think Mancini's entitled to say the club should have had a better transfer market and it's a fair point that if you bring in established top-quality players it will improve the ones who are already there.
But he seems determined to pin everything on Brian Marwood for RVP and the fact is, at this stage of City's development, there are still going to be some players who prefer the lure of Old Trafford. There's nothing Marwood, or Mancini, or anyone, can really do about that. They could have offered Arsenal more money, I suppose, but it still wouldn't have changed RVP's mind, would it?
Mancini is pretty bitter about Marwood (often refers to him just by his surname). Yet a director is not to blame for Hart's erratic form, or Kompany's injury issues, or Nasri's attitude, or all the other rows behind the scenes etc etc.
ChinofJim asks: "Would you agree that United's midfield has played better than most people expected this season, but that they have been bafflingly inept on the wings, traditionally such a strength for this team? Ferguson started off experimenting with diamond formations, but soon went back to playing more orthodox wide men, who have all utterly failed this season."
Very much so. If you think back to last season, all the talk was about United having problems in the centre of midfield. whereas it's not really been like that at all. Carrick's form is a big part of it. Cleverley's done well but Carrick's really grown into a player who can actually control games and is probably pushing RVP as United's player of the year.
As for the wingers, Valencia's probably been the most disappointing. He just seems to have lost that knack to drive past defenders. Remember the Valencia-Rooney link-up that used to work so well? I can hardly recall it at all this season.
Nani's been really poor, too. He seems to be sulking about a few things and, out of it, he's returned to being his exasperating worst (you could hear ironic cheers when he was subbed at Chelsea in the FA Cup replay).
Ashley Young? A bit hit and miss. It's strange because, as you say, United's wingers are normally one of their strengths.
GhostWiper asks: "Even though mathematically they’re still in it, I can’t help feeling that City have lost the title race this year (even if they win tonight!). Would you agree?"
When City lost at Arsenal this time a year ago – eight points behind, six games to go, Balotelli's red etc – I wrote a line in my colour piece about the body language of all the players, trudging off, picture of misery etc. “They knew it was over.” I've regretted that one after everything that happened. But this season? No, it's definitely over ...
Cryogenic asks: "Should we take no notice of Fergie's comments last week about Chelsea posing the biggest challenge if Jose (wine connoisseur) Mourinho returns. Take it Mancini is a threat no more?
I'm not sure he said the 'biggest' threat, more that they would make a considerably better fist of it with Mourinho in charge. Which is true. And also a subtle dig at his old friend Benitez, perhaps.
I wouldn't imagine Ferguson suddenly thinks Mancini is no longer a threat to him though, or even close. I've been covering United on and off since 1998 and I've never known any other two rivals PL managers he has treated with more seriousness. Ferguson properly rates Mancini. OK, it's not so evident at the moment but that 6-1, for example, cut him to the core.
Cryogenic asks: "Is Mancini right to blame other Premier League teams for "rolling over" against United? Or is that another in a long line of smokescreens for his shortcomings this season?"
To be fair to him, he has praised United quite a few times too. He always talks about the club's mentality, the headstart they have over City and it's rare to hear him knock United.
But I know what you mean: it probably wasn't the best timing on his part to raise this (it looks like a smokescreen/sour grapes). He does have a point, to a degree, because there are various teams who do roll over against United. Equally, there are other teams who roll over City and other teams who raise their game against United (Spurs at Old Trafford in September, the first game of the season at Everton etc). I think it's a bit straws-clutching, to be honest
Danny is in the comment section answering questions
Hello everyone. Will get started. Dom Fifield is the touch-typer of the operation. I'm a bit more clumpy-fingered but will try to get through as many as I can. Apologies in advance if I miss any out.
GaetanoDagostino asks: "Hi Danie l. I've read that tonight's game will go a long way to deciding the future of Mancini. Surely this is nonsense?"
This match won't decide it, no. But I think it would be naive not to think that Mancini is at least a bit vulnerable – or that he won't be thinking the same himself. Just think back to why he had all those talks with Monaco. He knows the pitfalls of the business, what can happen etc, and the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next weekend is actually the bigger game now. An FA Cup and second place doesn't look too bad, but a trophy-less season with the league all but decided in February, poor performances in the Champions League (whatever the strength of opposition, however it is dressed up, let's be honest: City were dismal in Europe) doesn't look at all clever.
I don't like managers getting sacked, the merry-go-round, all that nonsense, and I like Mancini. I've spent a fair bit of time with him and he's a fascinating bloke. He's also a bloody good manager but it's been a poor season for him, hasn't it? The least City want – the very least – is a club that is improving and yet they're going into tonight's game 15 points behind United, eight worse off than this stage last season, 17 goals worse off, goal difference 21 inferior.
Who has been their player of the season? Pablo Zabaleta, second-choice right-back and general odd-job man last season. And who else has played well? Not many, it has to be said.
I still think Mancini can get them back in the groove next season and, maybe just as importantly, there is no obvious upgrade out there that I can see. Mourinho increasingly looks like he's going back to Chelsea, Guardiola has gone to Bayern. So who else? Pellegrini? Someone on Twitter took umbrage with me saying that was no upgrade, but I really don't think it is.
I also think Gary Neville made a good point in his Mail on Sunday column: as soon as you get into the routine of 'let's change the manager, see where it gets us” it becomes a habit and eventually you become Chelsea. Which City's owners, for all I hear, are extremely keen to avoid.
Good afternoon. Danny Taylor will be online from 3.30pm to take part in a live webchat.
When the fixtures were drawn last summer, tonight's Manchester derby looked to be the game of the season. Every meeting of the Manchester clubs is essential viewing these days, but this Premier League contest in early April seemed to be the perfect starting point for the title run-in.
Things have not quite panned out that way. If United win tonight, they will go 18 points clear of City with only seven games to play. In this one-sided title race, Roberto Mancini has been the only party suffering from squeaky bum time. The City manager says teams roll over for Manchester United, but he will have to wait until the summer to see if his employers are happy enough with that excuse.
Some bookmakers have already paid out on United to win the title, but every derby is important. United will look to crush their opponents after the humiliation of last season's 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford. For City, this is a chance to retrieve some pride from a dispiriting season. As Joe Hart put it over the weekend: "We are still the side to beat, still competing with every game, still kept our respect and dignity, and we will come again. We are not a flash in the pan."
Hart says none of United's players would make it into City's team and that he isn't interested in giving credit to the league leaders. His defiance won't win back the league title, but at least it makes tonight's game worth watching.
If you have any questions for Danny, drop them into the comments section below.