Vincent Kompany insists the Manchester derby is the “most important game in the world” – and he would still feel that way if the two teams were not in the title race.
Manchester City currently lie eight points ahead of second-placed United in the Premier League table ahead of their first meeting of the season at Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports this Sunday.
Kompany, who scored a derby winner for City against United in their first title-winning season in 2012, says the rivalry between the two Manchester neighbours is more important than Premier League points.
He exclusively told Sky Sports News: “I kind of press pause when it’s a derby and the season doesn’t matter to me anymore, it’s all about the derby.
“Managers and players do like to downplay it, but I don’t care, it’s rubbish. The derby at that moment is the most important game in the world to me.
“It means more than anything else, and it will be everything I’ve got, everything the team have got and everything the fans have got to win that game.
“It doesn’t matter which position we are in, whether we need a point, three points, I don’t care, we need to make sure we leave that place with our heads high.”
Club captain Kompany understands why some players would want to prepare for a derby match as they would for any other game.
But he says he does not view the match in the same way and admits he can’t control his passion and emotion when he comes up against United.
He added: “I think it’s a natural thing to want to almost put expectations a bit lower, because it makes you feel like the pressure is perhaps easier to deal with, but in my case I am happy to deal with pressure.
“I enjoy it more than anyone else and I am happy to say that the derby is more important than any other game. I don’t care what anyone says.
“But it’s not something that happens in your mind and you’re in control of. It’s 110 per cent that your manager asks from you when you play against West Ham at the weekend, and he’ll ask the same for the United game.
“But the problem is in those derbies you get to 120 per cent, and nobody can explain why, but that happens in a game and it is out of everyone’s control.”