Manchester City will never be as popular as United because of the way they “buy titles” and “shut the door” on youth players, according to Mikael Silvestre.
The balance of power in Manchester shifted to City last season after they won the Barclays Premier League and finished some 22 points ahead of their local rivals.
After spending hundreds of millions of pounds, City have won two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup since Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008.
Silvestre, who played for United for nine years, believes City’s spending is bad for the game as it has stopped youth players being able to challenge for a place in the first-team.
“They just buy trophies,” Silvestre said at an event organised by United’s official time-keeper Bulova.
“United are all about growing players.
“City buy multiple stars and shut the door to the youth system.
“United have more courage. They are a club with a family spirit.
“Those who come through the ranks absorb the mentality, the history of the club so they show the heritage in their performances.”
UEFA imposed a record 60million euro fine (£49million) on City after they broke Financial Fair Play rules last season.
The club is growing in popularity across the globe, but Silvestre thinks they are still some way behind United.
The former defender believes football fans across the globe have been put off supporting City because of their hefty spending.
“The way they do their business, it doesn’t get people to support them,” Silvestre said.
“They might win trophies here and there but they won’t gain support. I have been travelling a lot for United in the last six months.
“I have been to Asia, and the support there is unbelievable and honestly City is nowhere near that.”