Richards, 23, believes United are worried by the progress City have made of late and says Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are “frightened” going in to Sunday’s showdown.
“United now know, much as they won’t say it, that we are a genuine threat to them,â€ Richards told the Manchester Evening News. “To get that banner down is quality – we have got the last laugh.
“We are not going out and saying we will win this game or that game, but they call us the noisy neighbours. I think they’re a bit frightened.”
The England international is eager to be part of a hotly contested derby and hopes Sunday’s show-piece does not disappoint.
“The last four derbies have not been that ferocious really,” he said. “Three or four years ago it was ridiculous, some of the tackling.
“I’d like to see that again, that ferocity, as it makes it more special. We all like to see nice football, but everyone loves a good tackle.
“It’s harder these days, as if you tackle someone hard you get questioned. I preferred those ferocious derbies – if it’s a foul obviously the referee has to pull it up, but with those 50-50 challenges he should just let the game flow.”
And Richards is confident the league leaders can emerge from their trip to Old Trafford with three points by playing attractive football, pointing to their improved performances at Unitedâ€™s ground in recent seasons.
“It used to be the case that we went to United and got battered every time but in the last year or two we have gone to United and sometimes looked the better team, on their own patch, so it shows how far we have come in a short space of time,” he continued.
“We have improved a lot and want the ball down to play – in those days it was about getting 11 men behind the ball and defending, and if we got a chance we had to take it. That’s what we did.
“If you speak to Mancini he wants to go there and win. People talked about us last season being boring and negative, but if you watch us now we are completely the opposite.”
1) Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City, February 2011
2) Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City, September 2009
3) Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City, May 2009
4) Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City, February 2008
5) Manchester United 3-1 Manchester City, December 2006
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