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Michael Carrick: Man United vs. Liverpool still trumps City derby

Michael Carrick has told ESPN FC that Manchester City have emerged as a true rival to Manchester United during his 12 years at Old Trafford, but as he prepares for his final Premier League game for the club before retirement, the former England midfielder claims that encounters with Liverpool remain the biggest on United's calendar.

United have now gone five years without a Premier League title, with Liverpool's wait for a domestic championship stretching back to 1990. City, in contrast, have just clinched their third title in six years.

Liverpool's run to the Champions League final has opened up the prospect of the Anfield club winning a sixth European Cup, however, which would be twice as many as the three won by United.

And Carrick, 36, admits that the historical rivalry between United and Liverpool, in terms of domestic and European honours, ensures that that game still tops the Manchester derby when it comes to significance in the United dressing room.

"I think the Liverpool game is special," he said during an exclusive look back over his United career with ESPN FC's Mark Ogden. "I think they're different games really.

"I think if you're looking at the City game now... I think the Liverpool game, because of the history and the tradition and everything that goes behind it, it run deeps doesn't it?

"The City one obviously runs deep as well, but for me, it [Liverpool] has got a slightly different feel."

City's rise since the arrival of owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan in September 2008 has transformed the landscape of football in Manchester, however.

And Carrick admits that everything has changed between United and City, on and off the pitch.

"It's been a big change since I came," he said. "In 2006 when I came, we beat them at the Etihad -- I don't think it was called the Etihad then -- Edwin [van der Sar] saved a penalty and we won 1-0 and that pretty much clinched us the league, first year around.

"We were always favourites to go there and win and obviously, as the years have gone by, they have developed and spent more money and they've obviously improved an awful lot.

"Now they're up there challenging every year, like ourselves, Chelsea and Arsenal."

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

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