Man Utd Mat City off pitchGetty

Top level recruitment, no more 'dumb money' and a world-class stadium - How Man Utd are trying to catch up with City off the field

It was during the final few weeks of David Moyes' nightmare season in charge of Manchester United when he declared that his side needed to "aspire" to be on the same level as Manchester City. Moyes had a habit of misjudging the public mood while he was manager and this was yet another misstep, pouring salt into United fans' wounds just after a crushing 3-0 defeat at home to City in March 2014.

It was the first season of the post Sir Alex Ferguson era and, while there were obvious concerns about City's rise, fuelled by the Abu Dhabi takeover six years earlier, United still very much felt like they were the premier team in Manchester and the country. At the time they had 20 league titles to City's three. They did not need to aspire to be like City, they just needed to be like the team they were 12 months previously under Ferguson, when they had romped to the title with four games to spare.

But with the benefit of hindsight, Moyes looks like he was on to something, and perhaps should not have been ridiculed as he was speaking the truth. Back then City were only outclassing United on the pitch, but they are now streets ahead of their local rivals as a football team and as an institution.

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As a dishevelled and depleted United prepare to visit City on Sunday, there can be no question that they continue to aspire to be more like their neighbours. But now that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team have taken control of United's football operation, there is genuine belief that they can overhaul their rivals in the next few years by taking the right steps off the pitch...