Manchester, United Kingdom – David Moyes has hit back at a suggestion from Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini that Manchester United's best days are a thing of the past ahead of Tuesday's derby.
United manager Moyes' men and Pellegrini's Premier League title-chasers meet later in the 167th Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
Victory for City would see them move to within three points of leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand.
But faltering champions United, in their first season since Moyes replaced the retired Alex Ferguson, British football's most successful manager, are already 12 points adrift of City.
Not only do United have no realistic chance of retaining their title, their chances of finishing in the top four and so qualifying for next season's Champions League now appear remote, with their best chance winning this term's tournament Ä a tough job given their quarter-final opponents are defending European champions Bayern Munich.
Last month City boss Pellegrini, whose side have already won the League Cup this term, said: “If you consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it is ours.
“But you cannot forget what United has done in previous years.”
The Chilean's words touched a nerve with Moyes, who on the eve of the derby, responded by saying: “Well Manchester United had lots and lots of seasons of domination.
“I don't think if I was a manager I would have turned round and necessarily said that we were the only club in Manchester because football does change, it goes in cycles,” the Scot added.
United's biggest problem in terms of league form has been the fact they've won just once Ä a 1-0 victory over Arsenal Ä against the top nine so far this season, with a recent 3-0 defeat by arch-rivals Liverpool still fresh in the memory.
“They have definitely hurt,” Moyes said.
“They have hurt more because I joined Manchester United with big expectations myself Ä that I was coming to the winning football club.”
The former Everton manager added: “I've got a winning mentality and that's what I wanted to do, so I'm disappointed with myself and I'm disappointed that we've been unable to do that.
“But it has not been for the want of trying, that's for sure.
“We want to try and perform better in the bigger games than what we have done.”
Meanwhile Moyes said he'd disciplined Chris Smalling after the United defender was pictured out in Manchester in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Manchester Evening News published pictures of Smalling which it said showed the defender singing in the streets at 3:15am (0315GMT).
Smalling, 24, had stayed behind while the squad travelled to London for their Saturday match against West Ham because of a hamstring injury.
“I've dealt with it and I've spoken to Chris,” Moyes said.
“That would be as much as I would want to say on it.” – Sapa-AFP