'United no longer an automatic choice' – Cruyff explains how City are the leading power in Manchester

The Dutchman says the Barcelona influence at the Etihad Stadium is making a huge difference

Manchester City have replaced Manchester United as the “automatic” destination for new players, according to Jordi Cruyff.

The Dutchman spent four years at Old Trafford and was at the club when they won the treble in 1999, though he only collected one major medal during his spell.

Cruyff moved to Old Trafford from Barcelona in 1996 for £1.4 million to join a squad including Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But thanks to the current era led by Jose Mourinho and off-the-field by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Cruyff feels the club’s reputation in the eyes of potential signings has reached rock bottom.

“Not making any steps forward in the Premier League is resulting in their rivals overtaking them, and here is where the problem lies,” said the 44 year old.

“Like other players at the time, I did not need to think twice about whether I would join United or City. Just like Barca, United were irresistible in those years.

“With everything that is happening and developments at City, it is no longer an automatic choice for players to choose United, and that is an even bigger concern.

“United was not just a beautiful football club, it also followed up the football I was used to.

“Home or away, United had a playing style, youth players and a winning mentality which was clear to everyone in the club.

“If Barcelona have one bad year, they would still not finish any lower than 3rd in La Liga. That should be the case at Man United, but sadly it is not.”

Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium to familiar surroundings, with former Barcelona chiefs Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano working behind the scenes.

Inside three campaigns, Guardiola has turned City into one of the most revered teams in Europe, with their title win last season enhanced by a record points and goal tally.

And with United floundering on the other side of Manchester, Cruyff cannot help but draw a striking comparison between operations at both clubs.

“Things look even worse for United since City have taken over the football vision of Barcelona,” the son of Johan Cruyff added.

“That is not just down to Pep Guardiola. Right now, three key positions in the club are taken by former Barcelona people. Pep is the coach and responsible for the team.

“Txiki Begiristain has the overall technical view as director of football and Ferran Soriano keeps his eye on the business side of the club.

“By having a trio with such strong Barcelona ties indicates that City have gone for a clear philosophy, which is leading to trophies and success everywhere. The philosophy of what the club stands for has gone at United.

“I get a strong feeling there is no plan which says which way the club is going and which could guide all the people working there.”

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