Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said he is not jealous of defending champions Premier League champions' Manchester City's squad as the Dutchman prepares for his first derby match in English football.
A recent City slump, which has featured a disappointing Champions League draw against CSKA Moscow, a league defeat by West Ham and League Cup exit at home to Newcastle, has left Manuel Pellegrini's men with just six wins in 15 competitive games this season ahead of Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium.
Van Gaal, of course, has problems of his own as he attempts to rebuild United's fortunes and has seen his team win just three of his first 10 matches as manager.
But the former Netherlands manager insisted on Friday he had not cast envious glances across the city.
"I am not jealous of the squad of Manchester City," van Gaal said. "I am proud of my players and that is the most important thing and when we play like a team then we have a big chance to win.
"It looks like the last games, they (City) are also in a process like Manchester United.
"But maybe they were also a little bit unlucky in these last three games.
"They were also ahead against CSKA Moscow and they drew 2-2. Yet we had Leicester City 3-1 and then we lost 3-5. That's a big disappointment for the players also and also for the trust and that is now overcoming Manchester City.
"But the derby is a special game match so you cannot say anything in it about the result, I think."
- No Rooney doubts -
Van Gaal confirmed he will welcome back captain Wayne Rooney from suspension, for a straight red card collected against West Ham, and said he had been impressed with the England striker's preparations.
"I think he is very fit because he is training very good," said van Gaal. "That was also my surprise that he always is very sharp in training sessions. I said that already in the USA (in pre-season).
"He has continued that attitude so I am very happy. And I think he is very fit to play. I don't have any doubt to play him."
However, despite the recent improvement shown in last week's home draw with league leaders Chelsea, which featured a dramatic injury-time equaliser from Robin van Persie, van Gaal has repeated his assessment that United's return to the top of the English game will take time -- even if a derby day victory that would see his side move to within a point of City would be a boost.
"We have to wait and see because this competition lasts a long time, nothing is decided yet," said van Gaal, as he pointed to new training pitches being built at United's Carrington training complex.
"We have a belief as a team as a selection that we can overcome. And of course it needs time, you have seen these pitches -- it needs time for the grass to grow and that's also with a team.
"It's not built in a day, it's a process and we have to wait and see. And the Man City game is a match in that process and that can help us when the result is good and we have shown the last matches that we are in a good shape.
"We are waiting on that boost because that can give you more than only the result. We have played very well against West Brom and we played a draw against Chelsea, nobody expected that result but for me it was not enough and maybe the result against Manchester City shall give us that boost."