Wednesday in Manchester, and as one institution reaches the end of the line, another was supposedly hurtling towards the buffers.

After years of letting down customers, providing pathetic value for money, laughable reliability and plummeting towards national laughing stock status, Manchester United and the humiliated rail franchisee Northern should probably compare notes.

As the UK government effectively brought Northern's journey to an end, a thought came to mind: there's another faltering institution that might benefit from nationalisation.

The Glazer family's ownership of United reached a nadir - its latest nadir - on Tuesday when the unpopular executive-vice chairman Ed Woodward saw his home apparently attacked by thugs, who through some perverse logic felt they were doing the right thing for their favourite football club.

If he won't go willingly, so their theory probably went, we'll drive him out through force. The theory is absurd, as Gary Neville reasoned before the latest Manchester derby, telling Sky Sports the images of violence at Woodward's home were "unfortunate", stressing: "People's families shouldn't be attacked through sport or through football."

But Neville is also fed up: fed up of waiting, fearful the old express train is being shunted towards the scrap yard by owners who care about only one thing.

The former United captain warned the protests are "going to get worse", said supporters are "absolutely disgusted" with the regression of the team, and spoke of simmering tensions coming to the boil.

The mayors of Liverpool and Manchester spoke earlier in the day of "almost two years of misery and mayhem" for train passengers, but United supporters, such as Neville, would tell you their suffering has gone on for longer.

United, so everyone says, would be better off in someone else's hands. Almost anyone but the Glazers and Woodward would appease supporters who have had to put up with ... only winning eight Premier League titles this century.

This sob story has to be put into some sort of added context though, and in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final at the Etihad Stadium an embattled United side showed they are not resigned to rotting in the sidings while Manchester City have the run of things.

United in January 2020 are not yet a lost cause. They sit fifth in the Premier League, have Europa League knockout football to come, and Bruno Fernandes is arriving: hailed as a saviour before he has kicked a ball or even signed his contract. No pressure then.

Fifteen miles from Old Trafford stands Gigg Lane, Bury, a stadium which used to stage lower-league football and United's reserve games but this season is staging nothing, the local team having been expelled from the English Football League in August amid a financial crisis. Fans there are bereft. Never mind nationalising a club, how about rationalising the crumbling of such a totem of that town to faultless supporters who, according to local MP James Daly, are now experiencing "increased social isolation".

Bury fans have been silenced, but United's thousands found their voice when, after 35 minutes of withstanding almost incessant City pressure at the Etihad Stadium, they snatched the lead with a swish of Nemanja Matic's left boot as the ball whistled past Claudio Bravo.

Never mind that they managed just one shot to City's nine, United led at half-time and were back to 3-2 behind on aggregate. Waiting on the platform for the late arrival of any sort of footballing gratification, of course those in United's ranks relished the moment.

Normal service would surely be restored in the second half, yet City wanted to walk it in. Raheem Sterling was ponderous when he should have been punishing, and goodness knows how City failed to score when Harry Maguire gave the ball away on the edge of the six-yard box.

United then lost a key component of their midfield rolling stock, Matic seeing a second yellow and a red for a reckless shove, and yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team still pushed for a goal to level the tie.

It was unsurprisingly beyond them, Pep Guardiola's City earning a ticket to Wembley to face Aston Villa on March 1.

Still, the United fans applauded and the players in red returned the compliment.

Solskjaer smiled, and Woodward, the unpopular station master, shook hands and exchanged well wishes with City counterparts in the directors' box.

Another chance of a trophy slipped by, on one of those nights when you paused to wonder if United might be back on track sooner than we thought.

There have been plenty of those before though, red herrings for Red Devils.

Kevin De Bruyne could not comprehend how Manchester City lost to Manchester United in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

City went down 1-0 at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, but the holders still progressed with a 3-2 aggregate victory to set up a final against Aston Villa.

Pep Guardiola's side - who are in the hunt for a third straight EFL Cup title - wasted a glut of glaring chances, with Raheem Sterling missing two notable opportunities while David De Gea was also in good form for United.

But with goalscorer Nemanja Matic sent off, United failed to make City pay for their profligacy, and De Bruyne knows his side must take heed from their mistakes.

"I think so," De Bruyne told Sky Sports when asked if it was a relief to hear the final whistle. 

"I can't even comprehend how we lost this game. For me, United didn't even have one chance. We were way too wasteful. We have to learn from this but at least it's good we got into the final.

"I think we got sloppy. The goal, we didn't clear the lines well and they scored. After, I don't think United had one more chance but they only needed one to score.

"In the end, we fought for what we had and we need to learn from the mistakes."

However, De Bruyne dismissed the suggestion City's defeat would tarnish their progression to a third consecutive final in the competition. 

"Of course not. If we win the final, nobody will talk about this game," he added. "It's not nice and we should have done better but it's just the way it goes sometimes.

"It's beautiful. I've been lucky in the five years I've been here to go [to Wembley] seven or eight times now.

"It means we're doing really well. It's always a nice day and now we're going to fight to win the cup."

Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan echoed De Bruyne's sentiments, but he believes City displayed the resilience they will need when they meet Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"I totally agree, we should have scored early in the first half. We started well but, after United scored, we were a bit sloppy," he said.

"We should have scored at least one or two goals today but it was not meant to be.

"It was a great test for the Real Madrid games. The manager said before the game it was an experience we had to survive and to overcome.

"I think we can improve - it's a learning process. We will analyse and try to make it better."

Manchester City will get the chance to defend their EFL Cup title in the final against Aston Villa after beating Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate, despite Nemanja Matic – who was also sent off – inflicting a 1-0 defeat in Wednesday's second leg.

City produced a wonderful display in the first meeting at Old Trafford and were arguably unlucky to only win 3-1, though it proved to be enough to send Pep Guardiola's men to Wembley even though they failed to meet expectations at home.

Despite finding themselves under extreme pressure at times in the first half, United managed to go into the break ahead thanks to Matic's satisfying strike in the 35th minute, casting some uncertainty over City's command of the tie.

But United were unable to use that goal as a launchpad, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men failed to craft further meaningful chances and Matic's late dismissal for a second booking effectively ended their hopes.

City looked eager to kill off United's chances as early as possible, with Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez forcing David de Gea into fine saves in the first seven minutes.

United weathered that storm and took the lead just past the half-hour mark – Matic slamming a crisp half-volley into the bottom-right corner after Fred's delivery was only partially cleared.

Raheem Sterling seemingly erased United's lead just before half-time when he turned Bernardo Silva's pass home, but the England international had strayed offside.

Sterling had another opportunity in the 58th minute when he was played through on goal, but after checking back to evade Victor Lindelof and then De Gea, he blazed his effort over from 12 yards.

United were reduced to 10 men 14 minutes from time when Matic cynically tripped Ilkay Gundogan to halt a counter-attack, and City had little difficulty seeing out their aggregate win from there despite Aguero's late strike being disallowed for offside.

 

What does it mean? Bruno Fernandes arrival a necessity

Although United's midfield had plenty of bite from Fred and neat touches from Matic, creativity was sorely lacking – hence their difficulty to create opportunities.

Following Wednesday's news United have agreed a deal with Sporting CP for Fernandes worth €80million, it does at least seem as though the club's hierarchy is trying to solve their midfield issues.

De Gea gives United a chance

It is fair to say De Gea has come in for plenty of criticism over the past 18 months, and rightly so. But on Wednesday he showed just how important he can be for United, making several vital saves. His efforts proved irrelevant in the end as his team lacked quality in attack, but he at least gave them a chance.

Sterling fails to shine

Sterling certainly gave Aaron Wan-Bissaka plenty to think about, but he made an unnecessarily early run for his goal that was chalked off and then spurned a wonderful chance to make it 1-1.

What's next?

City go to Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, as Guardiola renews his rivalry with Jose Mourinho. United host Wolves the day before.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed any "proper" Manchester United supporters would have been disgusted by the attack on Ed Woodward's home.

The Mirror reported on Tuesday that between 20 and 30 fans were involved in an attack on the home of United's vice-chairman.

United responded with a strong condemnation of the incident, vowing to ban for life any supporter found to have been involved.

Solskjaer echoed the club's sentiment, insisting any true fan of the club would be angered by the actions of the attackers.

"Everyone at the club and our proper supporters were disgusted with what happened," Solskjaer told Sky Sports ahead of United facing Manchester City in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

"We know our fans are passionate and opinions can be voiced in different ways.

"I've said it before, we've got to stick together, stay united and I'm sure our fans will support us."

Woodward has been a target of many United fans' ire over recent seasons, as the club continue to struggle to return to close to their former heights.

At long last, one of the more wearisome transfer sagas of the past 12 months is nearing conclusion – Manchester United announced they have agreed a fee with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes.

It seemed for a while that Fernandes would join United in pre-season, but, despite their seemingly obvious need for midfield reinforcements, a move never materialised and he remained with Sporting.

Speculation began to stir again last month, and the two clubs are said to have been locked in talks for much of January – though reports of Barcelona apparently hoping to sign Fernandes in order to use him in negotiations with Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno surfaced earlier this week.

Whether or not that story was a ploy by an agent to jolt United into decisive action, who knows? But something seemed to change this week, as the Red Devils finally reached an agreement with Sporting.

Fernandes had a massive impact at the club during his two-and-a-half-year spell, becoming captain and scoring or setting up 67 Primeira Liga goals in 83 appearances.

United certainly don't have a 100 per cent hit-rate when it comes to signings from Portugal – below, we examined whether their previous imports from the Iberian nation have been misses or not.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009) – HIT

The one that needs no introduction – Ronaldo was a revelation for United following his 2003 arrival from Sporting. The lanky teenager dazzled against United when they faced Sporting for the opening of their Jose Alvalade stadium and, as the story goes, those he tormented implored Alex Ferguson to sign him. So, he did. Outrageously skilful and flashy, early Ronaldo was as fun as they come, but after bulking out he developed a deadly streak, netting 31 times in the 2007-08 Premier League season and helping them to Champions League success. He has since gone on to mark himself out as one of the all-time greats with Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

Bebe (2010-2014) – MISS

From Ferguson's best to arguably his worst signing. Despite the Scot never seeing him play, Bebe is said to have arrived following a recommendation from Ferguson's former right-hand man, Carlos Queiroz. United reportedly paid Vitoria Guimaraes £7.5m for the attacker, but he immediately looked short of the required ability. He somehow managed to last four years at the club, including three loan spells. Most of his career since has been spent in Spain, and he's now playing for Rayo Vallecano in La Segunda.

Nani (2007-2015) – HIT

Few players polarised opinion quite like Nani during his time at United. Undoubtedly capable of the spectacular, he also had his fair share of underwhelming performances and could be infuriatingly frustrating. Like Ronaldo, Nani arrived from Sporting and it was initially said he struggled with the pressure due to comparisons with his United and Portugal team-mate. But in 2010-11 he established himself, producing some spell-binding performances to earn himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the United Players' Player of the Year award. Injuries then took their toll before leaving in 2015, going on to have something of a nomadic career ever since, though he has become Portugal's fourth-highest capped international.

Anderson (2007-2015) – MISS

Oh, what might've been. There's little doubt Anderson was immensely talented, but throughout his time with United there were concerns about his fitness and professionalism. He probably wasn't helped by being turned into something resembling a holding midfielder, given he thrived in a more attacking role previously, but he generally failed to live up to expectations. That's not to say he was hopeless – he amassed almost 200 appearances for the club, but given the promise he showed in his youth, he failed to reach his potential. Aged 31, he retired in September following a spell with Adana Demirspor in Turkey's second tier.

Victor Lindelof (2017-present) – HIT

After an unconvincing debut season following a move from Benfica potentially worth £38m, Lindelof has generally settled well at United and become a first-choice centre-back. Comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, the Sweden international is mostly dependable. Nevertheless, he's certainly not the perfect defender – he's not especially quick and does appear to struggle with physical forwards. So far, he can just about be regarded a 'hit', but United will surely be hoping for an improvement from him.

Marcos Rojo (2014-present) – MISS

Rojo always looked a somewhat puzzling addition, and those initial feelings have never really gone away. Technically able and versatile enough to play either centre-back or on the left, Rojo also relishes a physical tussle. But as something of a hot-head, Rojo has a tendency to be rash. Even Sporting fans were baffled when he joined United, who are said to have tried to sell him in almost every pre-season since buying the Argentina international. He now looks set to return to Estudiantes on loan.

Diogo Dalot (2018-present) – JURY'S OUT

Lauded as the best young full-back in the world by Jose Mourinho when he signed Dalot from his former club Porto in 2018, the Portugal Under-21 international is yet to prove that claim. He showed promise last season, with his ability on the ball and crossing earning acclaim, but he failed to hold down a spot at right-back despite United's concerning lack of quality in that position – Dalot's defensive capabilities proving unconvincing. The club then went out and splurged on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot, who has suffered numerous injuries, is undoubtedly talented, but a future as a regular at United might rely on him being converted into a winger.

Manchester United's pursuit of Bruno Fernandes finally came to fruition when a deal was agreed with Sporting CP on Wednesday, and Red Devils fans should have cause for optimism.

The creative central midfielder is Old Trafford-bound, providing the formalities of a medical and personal terms can be completed, meaning Fernandes will finally join up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side having been linked with a move since the close season.

Midfield has been a problematic area for United this term and would likely have been so even if Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay had not missed time through injuries.

The arrival of Portugal international Fernandes offers hope of going some way to addressing the problem, and here Opta data shows how Fernandes has performed for Sporting this season, compared to United's midfielders.


CHIPPING IN WITH GOALS AND ASSISTS

Scoring goals has been an issue for United this season, with their return of 36 from 24 Premier League games the lowest among the top six in the top flight.

Fernandes should help in this regard having contributed eight in 17 Primeira Liga appearances. United's best Premier League goals return from midfield comes from McTominay (three in 17 appearances), while Andreas Pereira has just one in 21 and Fred (20), Jesse Lingard (19), Juan Mata (15), Nemanja Matic (8) and Pogba (7) are yet to score – albeit the latter has spent a lengthy period on the sidelines.

The 25-year-old has also been a reliable supplier for his team-mates, with seven assists. Pereira has three and Mata two, the same number as Pogba. Fred, Lingard and Matic have yet to set up a team-mate.

In total his combined 15 goal involvements is 11 better than United's best of four from Pereira and McTominay.

Fernandes also has a minutes per goals involvement of 102. Pogba is United's best in that regard, again with the caveat of having played far fewer games, at 261. Mata chips in with an involvement every 314, with Pereira at 343 and McTominay 363.


WILLING TO SHOOT AND CHANCES CREATED GALORE

Solskjaer will certainly hope Fernandes can be a much-needed driving force from midfield and the signs are positive.

Fernandes has taken on 60 shots in the league for Sporting in 2019-2020, some 25 more than Pereira's return, which represents the most for United.

The likes of Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford – when he returns from a back injury – will also hope to thrive on Fernandes' service.

He has created 63 chances this term, an impressive 24 minutes per chance created. Conversely, the most a United midfielder has managed is 31 – again from Pereira, whose minutes-per-chance ratio is 44:1.

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP, it was announced on Wednesday.

Fernandes' move to Old Trafford is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.

Sporting posted a video on Twitter to say farewell to the 25-year-old Portugal international, who has cost United an initial €55million (£46.5m) and a further €25m (£21.1m) in add-ons.

The bonuses will see the Red Devils will pay €5m after Fernandes makes number of appearances, €5m for Champions League qualification and €15m based on individual objectes. Sporting will also be owed 10 per cent of the profit on any future sale.

Sporting's farewell clip was accompanied with a post that said: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Thank you, captain. Forever a Lion."

Speculation linking Fernandes with a move to Old Trafford had intensified in recent months, but the prospective deal looked to have fallen through last week due to United reportedly refusing to meet Sporting's asking price.

However, a fee has duly been agreed between the two clubs following talk of late interest from Barcelona.

Fernandes is set to become United's first signing of the transfer window and provides Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a much-needed boost in midfield, an area where he has found himself short of options amid injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP, it was announced on Wednesday.

Mino Raiola has furiously hit out at the attack on the home of Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on Tuesday, saying it is inexcusable.

The agent of Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland has had multiple disagreements with Woodward over United's decisions in the transfer market but he is adamant the events have crossed the line of what is acceptable.

United vowed to ban for life any supporters who were involved in the attack on Woodward's property if they are found guilty of a criminal offence or of trespassing.

Widespread reports documented how a group of people threw flares at the house on the eve of United's EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City and Cheshire Police are investigating.

Fortunately, Woodward and his family were not present at the time and Raiola has called for an immediate end to such protests, however frustrated fans may be.

"If anyone has used me as a reason to create any anger towards Ed, they are totally in the wrong because my relationship with Ed is good, it is professional, and we don't always need to agree but that's normal," Raiola said in an interview with The Athletic.

"What happened last night is not normal. It is violence and I condemn any type of violence. 

"These guys are morons and this is criminal behaviour. These people need to be locked up and re-educated. This cannot be part of sport. This is sport. This is not a question of life and death, it is entertainment.

"Do you think people attack the house of Brad Pitt if he makes a bad movie? Or does Quentin Tarantino get death threats because his film was not good? There is no reason or excuse, none whatsoever for this and Ed Woodward has my full support and solidarity."

Raiola recently branded United "out of touch with reality" and has previously been criticised for making public comments about Pogba's potential future away from Old Trafford.

And his demands were not met this month as United pursued Salzburg striker Haaland, who ended up moving to Borussia Dortmund.

But the Italian added: "I am with Ed Woodward – I'm on his side in this. I disapprove of violence against players, trainers, supporters, anyone and especially this kind of violence and harassment.

"This cannot be happening to a man – going to his private house and menacing him and his family. Are we totally crazy? Football is not that important in life.

"We have to condemn it. There is no place for violence inside or outside the stadium, and especially when it involves your house and your family. This is inadmissible."

Barcelona have seemingly given up on their pursuit of Rodrigo, while Manchester United are finally getting their man.

LaLiga giants Barca are eyeing a forward with Luis Suarez set to miss most of the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

But while they reportedly targeted Rodrigo, their bid to land the Valencia forward appears over.

Meanwhile, a long-running saga is set to come to an end in Manchester.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA GIVE UP ON RODRIGO

'Rodrigo no' reads the cover of Sport, which reports Barcelona have stopped negotiations with Valencia for the forward.

The report says Barca cannot reach an economic agreement with Valencia, but are considering other options in their bid to sign a forward.

Rodrigo has scored just two goals in 18 LaLiga games for Valencia this season.

ROUND-UP

- It is finally set to be over. Bruno Fernandes' move from Sporting CP to Manchester United is practically done, according to Record. The Premier League club will pay £46.5million (€55m) for the midfielder, plus £8.5m (€10m) in add-ons with the potential for a further £12.7m (€15m).

- There could be some movement at Stamford Bridge in the coming days. AS reports Roma have made contact with Chelsea regarding Pedro, who has made just five Premier League appearances this season.

- Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are ready to launch bids for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar, according to The Sun. The LaLiga club want £51m (€60.3m) for the Frenchman.

- Also at Spurs, the Mirror reports Tottenham are set to sign PSV attacker Steven Bergwijn for £25.4m (€30m).

- Pablo Mari's move to Arsenal appears set to become official. Globo Esporte reports the Flamengo defender will join the Premier League club on loan until June, with his club receiving £4.2m (€5m) and Arsenal holding an option to make the move permanent.

Bruno Fernandes said moving to the Premier League has "always" been his preference after Manchester United reportedly struck a deal to sign the Sporting CP captain.

One of football's most drawn-out transfer sagas is believed to be reaching its conclusion, with Fernandes poised to swap Sporting for United in a deal initially worth £47million (€55m) plus add-ons ahead of Friday's deadline.

Fernandes – heavily linked to struggling Premier League giants United this month and in the previous transfer window – is reportedly set to travel to Manchester on Wednesday.

Asked if the Premier League was his preference following reports of a possible move to either LaLiga champions Barcelona or Valencia, Fernandes told SIC: "It always was."

Pressed on whether United was his specific preference, the Portugal international midfielder replied: "Anything really."

Fernandes, linked to Tottenham and Real Madrid previously, has scored 15 goals in all competitions for Sporting this season.

The 25-year-old netted 31 goals last term, including 20 in Primeira Liga.

United, meanwhile, face Manchester City in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final – trailing 3-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils then play Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday before their mid-season break.

Manchester United will ban for life any supporters who were involved in an attack on the home of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on Tuesday.

The Mirror reported between 20 and 30 fans threw flares at Woodward's house on the eve of United's EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City.

In a statement provided to Omnisport, the Premier League club criticised the attack, saying there was "no excuse" for the "unwarranted" act.

"Manchester United Football Club have tonight been made aware of the incident outside the home of one of our employees," the statement read.

"We know that the football world will unite behind us as we work with Greater Manchester Police to identify the perpetrators of this unwarranted attack.

"Anybody found guilty of a criminal offence, or found to be trespassing on this property, will be banned for life by the club.

"Fans expressing opinion is one thing, criminal damage and intent to endanger life and property is another. There is simply no excuse for this."

United fans had chanted about Woodward - who was understood not to be at home at the time of the incident - and the club's owners, the Glazers, during a 6-0 FA Cup win over Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.

Sitting fifth in the Premier League, United have been increasingly criticised amid a difficult run of form that has seen them win only three of their previous eight games in all competitions.

It also comes as they reportedly continue to work on bringing in reinforcements in January, with Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes a target.

Pep Guardiola has accepted he made a "mistake" when questioning why Manchester City fans did not fill the Etihad Stadium for their last home game.

City's treble-winning boss faced a rare backlash from his own club's supporters following Sunday's FA Cup tie against Fulham, having spoken of his surprise at the 39,223 attendance.

The clash with Manchester United in Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg is expected to be much closer to the 55,000 capacity.

Speaking about City fans after the 4-0 win over Fulham, Guardiola said that "hopefully they will support us more" in the United game.

However, some responded by quickly pointing to a recent heavy load of fixtures, and the cost of attending every game, and their stance has prompted Guardiola to reflect on his comments.

The former Barcelona head coach said he had not realised the match was televised live by the BBC, with the terrestrial coverage a likely factor in the below-average crowd figure.

"Never was it my intention to offend them, they are part of us," he told a news conference on Tuesday when discussing the fans' reaction.

"Since I arrived here from day one until the last day, what I want is to fight and play as well as possible to see the Etihad full every single day, every single day.

"So it belongs to us to play well, to seduce them to come. The only reason why we do our job is not for the titles, it's to go to the Etihad Stadium and see it absolutely full and the people together, enjoying the games together."

A number of City fans have stressed it is not the team's performance level, but instead the expense involved in buying tickets and getting to games, that means they may sometimes stay away.

Guardiola stressed he understood their situation, saying: "It's not necessary to tell me because I was part of that when I was a little boy with mum and dad. I know exactly what happens."

And he looked to explain his weekend remarks by pointing to how significant a game he considered the Fulham fixture - saying he felt the FA Cup held more appeal to City than European glory.

"Since I've arrived here, I learned from English football how important the Premier League and the FA Cup are - more important to this club than the Champions League... much, much more," Guardiola said.

"We knew it through the club and I experienced it.

"It was my mistake: I thought it's Sunday, one o'clock, today it will be full. I didn't know it was on BBC One, not Sky."

Guardiola still wants to see City's home full for every game.

He said: "We tried to do our best to let them be proud for our team, and I will try it again to push them to be with us as much as possible.

"If it's possible to be every game full, full, full, it would be better."

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to keep their cool in the heat of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United as they bid to seal a place in the EFL Cup final.

Armed with a 3-1 lead from the first leg at Old Trafford, City approach the return fixture in the semi-final as firm favourites to reach the March 1 showpiece at Wembley.

However, City know all too well how potent United can be on their day, having suffered a home league defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in December.

Guardiola vowed he and his team have never been complacent, and he is optimistic that attitude will be enough to deliver an aggregate success.

"It's Man United. They can do it and have done it," Guardiola said. "In this kind of game, against this kind of team, with this incredible history, they have pride and I know, I know how difficult it would be to reach the final."

Speaking about the need to concentrate against neighbours who have endured a difficult Premier League campaign so far, Guardiola indicated he trusted his players to bring the right application.

"Never was my team complacent during four years - never," he said. "We have to be careful about their skills, we have to be careful about the counter-attack, we have to be careful about the set-pieces, we have to be careful about how good they can play if we let them play.

"We will have to defend. They don't have anything to lose so they are going to attack. We will have to control our emotions. We have to try to score goals."

Asked about possible squad rotation, a fired-up Guardiola stressed managers should be allowed to select their teams as they feel appropriate.

That issue has picked up traction in the wake of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp saying it would be the club's under-23 side that face Shrewsbury in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield, given the first team will be taking their mid-season break.

"Listen," Guardiola began. "We accept the schedules, the competitions, the games every two or three days, but don't tell the managers which selections you have to choose, please. It's our job."

City have a doubt over centre-back Aymeric Laporte but are expected to field a strong side, being eager to give United no hint of weakness.

They could have won by a greater margin at Old Trafford in the first leg, when Red Devils boss Solskjaer said City's strong line-up was a sign of their "respect" for United.

Guardiola said in Tuesday's news conference: "I show respect for my opponents from day one, from when I started with the second team at Barcelona to today, sat in front of you here.

"I took that selection (at Old Trafford) and tomorrow I will take another selection."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to use Manchester United's famous Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as inspiration when his side take on Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

United go into Wednesday's semi-final, second leg at the Etihad Stadium trailing 3-1.

That is a similar predicament to the one they found themselves in against PSG in March, when they overturned a 2-0 first-leg loss at home to progress in the Champions League.

Solskjaer knows United need a flawless display if they are to repeat the feat, but draws hope from that PSG encounter as well as United's 2-1 Premier League derby win in December.

"It looked like it was over at half-time," Solskjaer said of the first leg. "I have to say the second part of that first half they outplayed us for a while and it's hard, but then we got the goal, back in it.

"We hoped for another one but we have got to go into the memory bank and think PSG. 

"We have done it against good teams before and that gives us hope and the game in December [against City] gives us hope.

"We can't just defend, we have to try to keep the ball and make them run after the ball. 

"It has to be a perfect performance but we've done amazing things before at this club and the PSG game is, for me, a very, very good example of how you can make a two-goal deficit work in your favour. We need the first goal."

Solskjaer did acknowledge United's Etihad win over City came under different circumstances.

He added: "They are getting players back as well, we hit them last time when they were struggling a bit and since then they have played really well.

"We have lost Scott [McTominay] and Marcus [Rashford] since that game, a little bit lighter in the playing department.

"It has to be a perfect performance to win with two goals against such a good team away from home. For us it's not about away goals, we just need to score two more than them.

"It would be good not to concede first, because that makes it less difficult."

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