MANCHESTER City defender Micah Richards claims there has "never been a better time" to beat arch rivals Manchester United.
Having come through the City Academy, Richards is all too familiar with the long years the club have spent in their neighbours' shadow.
City are bidding to change all that by wresting the Barclays Premier League from United's grasp in the coming weeks and Monday's clash between the two clubs is absolutely vital.
City head into one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies of all time knowing they can reclaim top spot in the table with two games remaining with a victory.
Richards told the club's website, www.mcfc.co.uk: "Because United have always been better than us and have always had the bragging rights, it just makes it a little bit more special.
"I've played against them since I was part of the Under-14s and they've always been the better at every level.
"We're not quite there yet, though we're slowly, but surely catching up.
"The players who have just come in didn't really know what the derby in Manchester was all about - they're getting it now, though!
"Everyone wants to beat United because it's a huge game and there's never been a better time for this."
City led the table for most of the season but hit a sticky patch in March and their chances seemed over after a defeat at Arsenal earlier this month left them eight points behind.
That deficit has now been cut to three and, although United still have the initiative, Richards is pleased City are back in control of their own destiny.
The 23-year-old England international said: "If we win it really is in our hands.
"We don't want to get complacent. We went 2-0 up in the Community Shield, we didn't really play well and they came back and won the game.
"I want us to put in a real hard-working performance and really deserve to win it."