Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still believes Manchester United are a bigger club than Manchester City.
City are well placed to finish above their rivals for a seventh successive season, which has not happened since the 1930s.
The Blues have won three Premier League titles since the last of United’s 20 successes in 2013.
Asked before Saturday’s Manchester derby whether he still regarded United as being bigger, Solskjaer said: “Yes.”
The United manager added: “It’s inarguable we are too far behind but what are we going to do? Give up? Not challenge them?”
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In trophy terms it will take City a long time to catch United but, off the pitch, City are closing in on United’s financial superiority.
However, City manager Pep Guardiola feels there is more to being a big club than purely silverware.
And he knows City fans who revelled in their side’s underdog status two decades ago, when they spent four successive campaigns outside the top flight, have always thought of themselves as being equals.
“For United’s fans, they’ll always be the biggest club. For the City fans, they’ll always be the biggest club. It doesn’t matter if you have had a lot of success in the past, it’s part of what you feel,” Guardiola said.
“I learnt about Manchester City’s history and in the bad, bad moments, the support was almost higher or louder than, for example, now.
“If you are looking at the trophy cabinet, [United] are better, no doubts about that. Numbers are numbers and in that situation they’ve lifted more titles than us. But we’re trying to be there for as long as possible and for City fans, Manchester City will always be better.”
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, City have won seven derbies compared to United’s three, while City have amassed a total of 91 points more than United over the past six seasons.
City are already 11 points in front of United this season, but Solskjaer said: “Our aim is to bridge the gap and eventually go past the teams above us. We have the resources and the people to do it.
“Since I came in, seven players, with loads of experience, have gone. We need to rebuild and change the culture.
“We need to strengthen the squad in depth and quality. When we get those players in, I am sure the gap is going to close. But do I look like I am going to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on players I am not sure of?”
For now, that means relying on fast, attacking players.
Former United manager Jose Mourinho said so after his Tottenham side lost at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Guardiola, too, has delivered a similar message.
“It’s clear they are a counter-attacking team,” he said. “When I remember the goals against Chelsea at the beginning of the season, most of them were on the counter attack, when Chelsea attacked a little more. Against Liverpool, the goal was a counter attack.”