"Sunday is a big one," he observed. "Of course, they are the champions, so it is a big test for us."

United will head across town without two of their key men in injured striker Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose dismissal at Portsmouth means he will sit out the encounter through suspension.

For most City supporters, the absences are a further reason to cheer. Eriksson, though, is less pleased.

"It is a pity," he said. "As a fan or a spectator in front of the TV, you want to see the best players perform.

"But they have so many good footballers I think they can put in another one who is very good as well."