Jose Mourinho has branded Manchester City “untouchable” ahead of Sunday’s eagerly-awaited derby showdown.
City won the title from United last season by a record-breaking 19-point margin with a record total of 100 points, and top the Premier League table going into the derby, with the Reds trailing by nine points.
The champions have faced damaging allegations this week that they artificially inflated sponsorship deals in a bid to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
Mourinho, asked about the FFP allegations facing City, said: “It’s difficult for me to answer because I focus on my job.
“I focus on the four lines, focus on football, so if you want to speak about their football potential we can speak, and football potential starts with investment.
“After that, of course, there is a quality of the work, of the organisation, I think that is untouchable.
“But what is behind, I cannot say. But in this moment I have only to think about football, and to think about football is to think about Manchester City as a football team there.”
United came from behind to win 3-2 at the Etihad last season to delay City’s title coronation and Mourinho said they go there on Sunday with the intention of doing the same.
Asked if United, who have won their last three games with a more attacking approach, will go toe-to-toe with City on Sunday Mourinho said: “We are going to try.
“I cannot say we are going to be successful in our motivations, in our desire, but we played two difficult matches away against two very good teams, Chelsea and Juventus, and we managed to get good results.
“Even if the good results were not in our pockets, the performances were there, the positive attitude was there, so we are going to try but City are a very powerful team.
“If we draw the gap is still nine points, if we lose it’s 12, so I don’t think that is the way to look at the match.
“We have to just think about the match, is difficult enough as an isolated event, if you want to put that match into the context of where we are and where we can be.
“I want to play it as an isolated match, a difficult match against a difficult team, but they will also think it’s a difficult match for them.”
Romelu Lukaku has missed United’s last two games, but trained today and will be assessed tomorrow ahead of Sunday.
“Lukaku is training with the team this morning,” said Mourinho.
”If the answer is positive and we have of course one more session tomorrow, if the answer is positive he is ready but he trains with the team I don’t know his answer.”