Man City win heaps pressure on Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Man Utd as Arsenal icon proved right | Football | Sport

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United were second-best from minute one against the Cottagers, who deservedly took all three points thanks to Alex Iwobi’s stoppage-time winner. The result was the latest in a string of recent defeats to lesser opponents, with the likes of Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest all having beaten the Red Devils this season.

Ratcliffe recently spoke of his ambitious plan to lead United back to the top of English football, declaring last week that he was intent on knocking City ‘off their perch’. However, it seems that Ratcliffe could benefit from tempering his expectations to avoid being left red-faced by United’s cross-city rivals.

City have only lost once to a team outside the Premier League‘s top four this season, with Wolves getting the better of Pep Guardiola’s side at Molineux back in September. Other than that, they have brushed aside lesser opponents with ease to keep themselves firmly in the hunt to win a fourth straight title.

The defending champions maintained their strong form with a hard-fought win over Bournemouth just hours after United were embarrassed by Fulham on their own patch. It was far from a vintage City performance, but they still managed to find a way to win despite being pushed all the way at the Vitality Stadium.

The result served to highlight one of many reasons why United are still nowhere near matching City’s high standards, let alone surpassing them over the course of a 38-game season. Top teams usually win nearly all of their games in which they are heavy favourites and City have mastered this trait over the last few years. United, however, have found things far more difficult when faced with opponents they really should be beating.

It seems the Red Devils will need to focus on winning against the smaller Premier League clubs before Ratcliffe can worry about surpassing City at the top of the table. Saturday’s result against Fulham showed that more pressing issues need to be addressed before United can get too far ahead of themselves, with Paul Merson giving Ratcliffe a stern reality check after the final whistle.

Speaking in his role as a pundit on Sky Sports News, the Arsenal icon said: “Jim Ratcliffe, I know he’s put a lot of money in but then you hear him saying ‘we’re looking for Man City’. Pull it in. Start pulling in teams like Aston Villa first.

“You look at United and it’s like England about 10 years ago, when I’d say they won’t win a tournament in my lifetime. It’s the same with United at the moment. They’re a million miles away. How many years has it been now? It’s been a long time. They need to start from the bottom.

“They need to sit down this year and go: ‘Right, let’s wipe the floor, let’s get [Dan] Ashworth in and get people he wants in and go again’. This is going to be slow, it’s not going to be overnight. This is going to be very, very slow. If United went and won the league in the next five years, whoever the manager is should get knighted, seriously.”

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