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Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes Manchester United are the ‘strongest they’ve been in years’ – although supporters are seriously doubting the sincerity of his words.

It’s not the result City boss Pep Guardiola wanted, with a derby clash against United on Saturday afternoon on the horizon.

United are the only team to have picked up maximum points in the league since its restart after the World Cup alongside Fulham.

Form traditionally goes out the window when it comes to a derby. That hasn’t stopped City captain Gundogan from waxing lyrical about United’s form.

He told Sky Sports in his post-match interview: “It’s never easy for the confidence to lose a game before such a big derby. We go to Old Trafford, we know we’ve done well over there.

“Another side of the truth, It feels like this United side is stronger than ever. They are full of confidence, they play great football, we will need a better performance than today.”

The Germany international seemed sincere in his words but United fans aren’t buying it. They think Gundogan is attempting ‘mind games’ to lower United’s guard.

One person said: “He’s literally laughing as he says it.”

Another commented: “The way he smiled through that whole interview is very unnerving.”

A third put: “Pep thinks he’s clever getting his players up to these tricks.”

While someone added: “He thinks we can’t see what he’s doing.”

United fans aren’t convinced by Gundogan’s praise. (Image Credit: Alamy)City’s defeat means Guardiola has lost a quarter-final for the first time in his glittering managerial career.

City were below their usual high standards at St. Mary’s after making several changes. Guardiola believes the team he fielded should’ve been good enough to get a result.

He said post-match: “I know my players well and today was not even close to what we are They were better – Southampton deserve to be in the semi-finals. When you are not prepared to play this game you arrive one inch late and don’t score a goal. When you are prepared you score the goal. We have to accept it and improve.”