Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney believes the bi-annual Premier League battles with Liverpool are still more important to the Old Trafford faithful than the increasingly significant local derbies against neighbours Manchester City.
City and United go head-to-head for the first time this season at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in a game being billed as a potential momentum shifter for the rest of the season.
However, Liverpool-born Rooney claims the historically significant United-Liverpool battles remain the biggest fixture of them all.
“City have had their success recently, but I would probably say that United and Liverpool is still the biggest game,” Rooney told reporters.
“They’re all big games, but obviously United and Liverpool has been a massive game over the years. I’d say it’s still the biggest game.”
Despite his comments, Rooney accepts the latest instalment of the all-Manchester tussle will make for compelling viewing this weekend, but is quick to play down suggestions that the result could have a big impact on the fledgling title race.
“It’s a massive game between two title contenders,” added Rooney. “It’s not going to define the season, but it’s a big game, a local derby.
“The English players are more aware of what it means after the last four or five years. It’s a big game and we’ll be going there hopefully to win. I’ve scored a few goals against City and I’m looking forward to the match.”