To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
18 Sep 2009 15:16
Sir Alex Ferguson has taunted Manchester City ahead of Sunday’s derby by labelling Mark Hughes’s men arrogant and insisting the fixture will never be as important to Manchester United as their clashes with Liverpool.
United manager Ferguson is preparing for one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies of all time at Old Trafford this weekend and he admits it will be a fiesty affair.
The build-up to the contest has been dominated City’s £100-million spending spree on new players during the close-season, which suggested they can finally compete on a level footing with their more illustrious and successful rivals.
City are level on points with second placed United after winning their opening four matches, a run which included a 4-2 thrashing of Arsenal, to add weight to the theory that they could challenge for the title this season.
Ferguson is also still smarting at the decision of City officials to hang a giant poster of Carlos Tevez in Manchester in the wake of the striker’s decision to move to Eastlands from United before the start of the season.
The Scot has been quick to stick the boot into United’s neighbours and put them in their place by claiming he will always view Liverpool as his club’s main rivals.
“I’ve been asked the question of whether this is the biggest derby game of all time?” Ferguson said on Friday.
“It’s difficult to say. If you go back to the 1960s, City won the League and we won the European Cup so it must have been an incredible time for Manchester.
“But in recent years City have not achieved that.
Now they have bought the players and there is expectation.
“It will be a real fiesty game, there’s no doubt about that and I look forward to it.
“Liverpool, to me, will always be the derby game. It’s because of the history.
“When I came down here they were the kingpins of England. They’d won four European Cups at the time, quite a few league titles with Bob Paisley through to Kenny Dalglish and Joe Fagan.
“It was my aim to do well against them, turn that around. It’s hard to go against history.
“There’s no doubt that the spending of City has created all this [hype]. They’ve had a good start and their performance against Arsenal is one you have to take note of.
“There was that thing with the stupid poster. That was arrogance. They shouldn’t have done that.
“That was naughty and had a cockiness that wasn’t required at the time because it was before the season had started.
“Other than that, what else they are doing doesn’t worry me. What you have to concern yourself with, for now, is who is going to win the league?”
Tevez could return to face his former club if he shakes off a knee problem but Ferguson, who could be without Rio Ferdinand due to a groin problem, is not concerned.
He added: “It doesn’t bother me one bit. I think their best player is not playing. [Emmanuel] Adebayor has been their star player, he’s scored in every game and he will be a loss really.”
Rather than worry about City’s stars, Ferguson is more vexed by Ferdinand’s struggle to avoid injury.
A thigh injury sidelined Ferdinand last month before the groin strain suffered in training in midweek forced him to miss United’s Champions League win over Besiktas. He also missed six weeks of last season with back spasms.
“It is a concern for us and something we could have done without,” Ferguson added.
“He has one game back and picks up another injury when he really needs some games to get back to his maximum.
“We don’t need to make a decision right away but he really has to do something positive in training to give himself a chance.
“We hope he is there though. We want all our big players for this particular game.”—AFP
Create Account | Lost Your Password?