Robbie Savage on the Manchester derby, Burnley and Leeds

Robbie Savage

In his regular BBC Sport column, football pundit Robbie Savage looks at how Sunday's Manchester derby is the start of a big week for Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, why Burnley do not come close to his old Derby side as being the worst team in Premier League history and what happens next for Leeds after their latest managerial change.

It has already been a bad week for Manchester City and their manager Manuel Pellegrini, and things could easily get even worse on derby day.

The people saying they are a club on the brink of a crisis are not far wrong - this is a pivotal moment for City's season and, possibly, Pellegrini's future too.

I am expecting Chelsea to beat QPR on Saturday and, if they do, City will go into Sunday's derby with Manchester United nine points behind Jose Mourinho's side.

After two defeats and a draw in their last three games, the defending Premier League champions will be under massive pressure to find some form, beat their neighbours and stay in touch at the top.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini
Pellegrini's side have not won any of their three Champions League games this season

If they don't get three points against United then, with their hopes of Champions League progress also in the balance, there could be serious questions asked about Pellegrini's future for the first time since he arrived in English football in the summer of 2013.

In that time, the spotlight has usually been on the manager on the other side of Manchester - firstly David Moyes, and now Louis van Gaal.

Would winning the FA Cup be enough?

Pellegrini, who is very much the quiet man anyhow, has rarely made the headlines other than by winning the Premier League title in his first season in charge.

That was a superb achievement, and he did it playing some brilliant attacking football, but now he is finding out how hard it is to deliver the dominance that is the long-term goal for City's owners.

For City to become as big as they want to be, which is a worldwide force in the same bracket as Manchester United and Real Madrid, they have got to win the Champions League.

That is almost certainly not going to happen this season - they might not even get out of their group.

City have another must-win game against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday but even then they face a fight to reach the knockout stage.

Another Premier League title this campaign already looks a huge ask and, for me, defeat by United would all but finish their hopes - I do not see Chelsea losing three times all season and that nine-point gap would be too big to make up.

Wednesday's defeat by Newcastle means their defence of the Capital One Cup is already over too so, by Bonfire Night, they could be realistically down to being in the hunt for one trophy - the FA Cup.

The worry for Pellegrini is whether winning that would be enough to keep him in his job.

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini
Mancini left City in 2013, a year after taking them to the Premier League title

A run in that competition did not seem to help his predecessor at the Etihad Stadium, Roberto Mancini, very much.

Mancini's departure appeared to have been decided before the 2013 final, which City lost to Wigan. If that is true, then even winning the FA Cup would not have saved him.

What is wrong with City?

City's struggles this season already remind me of what happened under Mancini after he won the Premier League in 2012.

They failed to improve their squad, flopped in Europe and ended up finishing a distant second in the title race.

This time around, their early-season form has not been disastrous, just not very good.

Their defensive problems are obvious and, on the face of it, most worrying.

But it is a mystery why they have failed to find the electric attacking form from last campaign that saw them become the quickest team to score 100 goals in a season in the Premier League era.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure
Toure scored 20 Premier League goals last season, but has managed just one so far this campaign

Yaya Toure seems to be getting a lot of the blame but, while he has not been at his best, City's problems are clearly not all down to him.

Ignoring domestic cup games against non-Premier League teams, they scored 37 goals in their final 14 games of last season.

In the same period at the start of this one, and again ignoring games against lower division opposition, they have found the net only 22 times.

I don't know what has gone wrong and why they are missing their spark, but the worrying thing is that Pellegrini does not seem to know either.

It is not beyond him to turn things round, however.

This time 12 months ago, City were smashing teams all over the place at home but shipping goals badly on the road and had lost four away games in the league by mid-November.

Pellegrini adapted his tactics, added some defensive solidity to their attacking flair and did not lose again away until the middle of April.

He needs to do something similar again now, starting on Sunday.

Rock-bottom Burnley will not be worst ever

Things look pretty grim for Burnley right now - they are bottom of the table without a win from their first nine games, and look unlikely to break their duck when they play Arsenal on Saturday.

Even so, I do not see the Clarets rivalling my old Derby side as the worst team in Premier League history, which we were when we sank like a stone in 2007-08.

Robbie Savage in action during his first season at Derby
Savage did not win a game in his first season with Derby after joining at the start of January 2008

We were the first Premier League side to be relegated as early as March and went down with only 11 points and just one victory, going 32 games without a win - all unwanted Premier League record lows that still stand.

The Rams had picked up that win before I joined them from Blackburn in January of that season, so I didn't even win one game with them.

I can laugh about it now but it was a horrible time.

Derby were eight points adrift at the bottom of the table when I moved to Pride Park so I knew there was a good chance they would go down.

But they had just made a few signings to try to stay up - players like Laurent Robert, Hossam Ghaly and Danny Mills - and, as far as I was concerned, they were still fighting. The worst case scenario was going down, and then helping them get straight back up.

Any positive thoughts had disappeared within a week of me going there, though, just from what was happening in training.

The players had no confidence and we ended up going into games every week looking at the opposition and thinking 'how are we going to get anything here?'

I learned a big lesson about how big a part self-belief plays in sport.

I knew going into every game that we would get beaten, and most of the time that is what happened.

I would still do my best but for the first time in my career I did not think that would be enough to make a difference.

Derby's Premier League record 2007-08
P38W1D8L29F20A89PTS 11

I think things are different at Burnley, though.

Yes, they are the only team without a victory in the top four divisions in England but they are not playing like a beaten team.

Burnley's Premier League record 2014-15
P9W0D4L5F5A16PTS 4

Their manager Sean Dyche is a big believer in positive thinking, and his players are responding to that, despite their results.

Goals are the key to Burnley revival

On the pitch, Derby's big problem was goals. There just were not enough of them in that Rams team, and we only scored 20 in 38 league games.

Kenny Miller was our top league scorer with four. Then came Emanuel Villa, a £2m Argentine who was new to the Premier League and scored three times after signing in January.

Our other strikers, Steve Howard and Robert Earnshaw, scored one apiece.

I wasn't going to score any from midfield and neither was David Jones who, ironically, is now playing for Burnley. He is probably worried that he is going through a repeat of that 2007-08 season all over again.

Their statistics do not look good, with Burnley near the bottom of the rankings in most attacking categories, particularly shots on target and their ratio of goals to shots.

Burnley in the Premier League 2014-15 (and rank)
Data: Opta
Goals5 (19th)
Average shots per game8.78 (12th)
% Shots on target34% (19th)
% Shots to goals6% (20th)
% Pass completion73% (19th)
% Possession43% (17th)

I still think that is an area they will improve in when Sam Vokes returns from injury and can partner Danny Ings again.

Even if they do find the form that won the Clarets promotion, the bottom line is that it is a huge step-up from the Championship and Premier League, as Burnley are finding out.

But they will not go down without a fight and, sadly for Derby, I think that means their records are safe.

Leeds need stability, Redfearn needs time

I have not forgotten that Leeds fans pelted me with hot-dogs when I was working as an on-pitch TV pundit at Emirates Stadium before an FA Cup tie against Arsenal in January 2012.

It was the first time I had been attacked with fast food.

Despite that, I still feel sorry for them with the managerial circus that is going on at Elland Road right now.

Neil Redfearn
Redfearn earned 10 points in four games as Leeds caretaker boss earlier this season

Academy boss Neil Redfearn is set to become Leeds' third head coach of the season after the club's owner Massimo Cellino sacked Darko Milanic after just 32 days in charge.

I had a great call from a young Leeds fan on 606 on BBC Radio 5 live on Saturday, who said that he still thinks they can finish in the top six in the Championship with Redfearn in charge.

But, realistically, survival has to be the target for Leeds. To achieve that, stability has to be the main aim for Redfearn and Cellino.

I don't think Leeds will go down but it is sad to see such a massive club with a great history and a fantastic fanbase face such an uncertain future.

The only way that is going to change is if Cellino gives Redfearn time.

Robbie Savage was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

Top Stories