United have been the dominant force in English football for the last 20 years, but they have fallen out of contention for domestic honours this season under new manager David Moyes.
The defending champions are currently 15 points off the pace in the Premier League in seventh place and have also been eliminated from the two domestic cup competitions.
Moyes’s side will face Olympiakos in the Champions League last 16, but while it represents their only chance of silverware this season, City are gunning for glory on four fronts.
They are three points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League with a game in hand, have reached the final of the League Cup and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and face Barcelona in the Champions League.
Bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi United Group, which purchased the club in 2008, City won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012, and Pellegrini says that on this season’s evidence, they have now eclipsed United.
“If we consider only this season, Manchester City is the only big team in Manchester,” Pellegrini told a press conference on Monday on the eve of his side’s last 16 first leg at home to Barcelona.
“But we can’t forget what Manchester United did in the last years. This season the club (City) wants to fight for titles and continue to grow and give us time to develop a playing philosophy.”