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Thirteen Manchester City managers have tried and failed to match the exploits of Sir Alex Ferguson since the Scot arrived at Old Trafford in 1986; incumbent number 14 is discovering just how difficult a job he has on his hands.
There's an incredible intensity in the derby game now which wasn't there 10 or 15 years ago
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
While Ferguson was celebrating his 24th anniversary at Manchester United this weekend with a now trademark last-minute victory over Wolves, Roberto Mancini was battling to prolong his 11-month tenure at West Bromwich Albion.
The outcome was successful, but the reprieve only temporary. Defeat in Wednesday's derby would put Mancini under massive pressure and only serve as a reminder of how much work there is still to do before City can emerge from United's shadow.
Mancini has lavished £140m on his squad in 11 months, but is no better off in terms of points-per-games than Mark Hughes's side at this stage last season and rumours of disharmony between players and coach refuse to go away. Nonetheless, a first league victory over United since February 2008 would see City go level on points with their neighbours, who are are looking to extend a 24-match unbeaten run.
The derby will be the first since Wayne Rooney's reported flirtation with City ended with the England striker signing a lucrative new deal to stay at United. Rooney, however, will be 5,000 miles ways as he undergoes treatment on an ankle problem in the United States.