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Ferguson talk must please Man City

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Phil McNulty | 10:11 UK time, Friday, 18 September 2009

There is only one thing worse than being talked about by Sir Alex Ferguson - and that is not being talked about by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson is the Premier League's most calculating orator when it comes to public pronouncements on the opposition facing Manchester United.

If you are studiously ignored by Ferguson - or even worse if he is nice or complimentary about you - then it is a safe bet he does not regard you as a threat to Old Trafford's continued supremacy.

It is a belief held by many that his frosty, and occasionally pizza-stained, relationship with Arsene Wenger has magically thawed at a time when Arsenal no longer win trophies.

So when Ferguson chooses to attack Manchester City for being "cocky" and downplay their 100% record in the Premier League campaign as being the result of a "softish" start, then boss Mark Hughes should be flattered as opposed to insulted.

The latest attack comes after an even more withering verbal assault in July when the newly-emboldended Eastlands regime used a giant poster of Carlos Tevez, signed from United, near the city's commercial heartland emblazoned with the words "Welcome To Manchester".

blog_getty_595x335.jpgFerguson and Hughes have guided their teams to four wins each so far this season

Was it pointing out that Manchester United's home is not technically in Manchester? Was it suggesting that Tevez - a cult figure at Old Trafford as supporters constantly pleaded for Ferguson to "sign him up" - had now found a more fitting home in the city?

Whatever its intention, it brought an icy blast from Ferguson as he said: "It's City isn't it? They are a small club with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can't get away from it. That arrogance will be rewarded. It is a go at us, that's the one thing it is. They think taking Carlos Tevez away from Manchester United is a triumph. It is poor stuff."

In truth it was actually a pretty lame attempt at a wind-up - but Ferguson's response at least confirmed to one-time Old Trafford icon Hughes that they were on the old master's radar. And that usually means you are doing something right.

The other side of the coin is that it is not always wise to make Ferguson and Manchester United angry and you can bet your bottom dollar the idea of a very large element of payback will add extra spice to Sunday's derby at Old Trafford.

Manchester United will see this as the chance to put Manchester City firmly in their place - to slap down their mega-rich neighbours and remind them of their true place in the Premier League pecking order.

For Manchester City, it is the biggest opportunity yet to measure their huge rebuilding programme against the most accurate template of all in the modern era, a club that has won the title for the last three seasons and thrown in a Champions League triumph for good measure.

On visits to City this season, I have not found a cocky club. I have found a club revelling in an incredible surge of optimism thanks to their Abu Dhabi riches and the arrival of genuine quality in the squad.

It is laced with the traditional City black humour from some fans - but who can blame them for that after years of watching a constant stream of silverware arrive at Old Trafford? And who can blame them for enjoying their new-found wealth after years as the poor relations of Manchester?

And if City do feel they can take on Manchester United then this is surely good for football, as is any challenge that fires up Ferguson even further (if that's possible) in pursuit of renewed successes.

City were visibly buoyed by the victory against Arsenal at Eastlands. How sad it was that a win that should have been paraded as a sign of their progress should be buried under the avalanche of ill-feeling provoked by Emmanuel Adebayor's ridiculous antics as he taunted Arsenal's fans as well as raking Robin van Persie's face.

United had a little win of their own last Saturday - namely an outstanding victory and performance at Spurs, inspired by a wonderful display from Wayne Rooney.

It does not pay to tweak the lion's tail and there will be an extra glow of pleasure on Ferguson's face if City are swept aside on Sunday. Expect that familiar clenched fist to the Stretford End if three points are secured.

So the stage is set for a classic. It is a pity for City that some of the key protagonists will not be taking part.

Perhaps those who thought Adebayor was justified in any of his actions last Saturday might like to reflect on his wisdom now, as he sits suspended on the margins of Old Trafford, with Robinho still out, Roque Santa Cruz still rehabilitating (the joke is that Santa might be ready in time for Christmas) and Carlos Tevez struggling with a knee injury.

If any of those attacking resources had been fit then City's current confidence levels could have risen another notch. Make no mistake, they feel in the mood to present a forceful challenge to United - but it would have been so much easier with Adebayor available, especially in his current form.

The visit to Old Trafford will also provide a stern test for City's revamped rearguard and the expensive central defensive partnership of Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott.

Rooney's display at White Hart Lane contained all the elements that make him such a magical player. He is not simply about natural gifts, he is about work-rate, passion and an ability to buy into the team ethic Ferguson holds so dearly.

He will be the weapon Ferguson will want to use to inflict pain on a team and a club he clearly feels are getting ideas above their station. The Scot's observation that he has always viewed the meeting with Liverpool as United's real "derby" is presumably calculated to place City's actual significance to his team's chase for honours into sharp relief.

City's naked ambition has added another layer of intrigue on to what was always going to be an eagerly-anticipated encounter.

In reality, City will not emerge as title rivals to United this season - it is too early in such a major transition for that sort of talk to carry even a crumb of credibility.

But the simple fact that they have captured Sir Alex Ferguson's attention so publicly can be regarded as a sign of serious progress.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Well i would agree with the majority, though i would wait until the weekend is over before putting any credence in the second to last sentence... I would be surprised to see City in serious contention come february, but it is a fool who bets against money in the modern game, as you can gurantee the middle eastern cheque book will be out again in January!

    Fingers crossed for a good derby!

  • Comment number 2.

    I think United will remind city that they still have a long way to go before they can be true rivals to their title. 3-1 United for me.

  • Comment number 3.

    Im sure fergie must comment on other 'lesser' clubs, but the media is less likely to report it becasue it isn't headline grabbing stuff!

  • Comment number 4.

    Interseting Phil, what do you make of United front line? Obviously Rooney picks himself, but in what style. I feel that Ferguson would do well to ask Rooney to revert to an out and out striker, in the Alan Shearer mould. He has all the attributes, plus the pace and power to set him apart. As Berbatov likes to drop deep, and is naturally, a more elegant, thoughful and creative player, perhaps this could work well, akin to a Sheringham/Shearer partnership,.

  • Comment number 5.

    Excellent Blog as usual Phil, most of the comments are spot on. Is it aslo a measure of City's progress that the number of column inches and number of posted blogs this year has a blue tinge to them.
    As much as anyone cannot deny that City are a club and team transformed over the past 12 months, the recognition from media and pundits is surely secondary to the encouraging results. It's 48 years since city have won their first 4 matches in the top flight. Should they win on Sunday you have to go back to the early 1900's to see when that was last achieved.
    Personally I'll settle for a 0-0 draw and move onto the next game. Perhaps when city are still unbeaten over the next 5 games will the media start to say they are a genuine title hope this season.

    Here's dreaming!

  • Comment number 6.

    So there are 2 things worse than being talked about by Sir Alex Ferguson?!

  • Comment number 7.

    Here we go again; another journalist who is fixated with Ferguson. Who cares if someone attracts his attention or not? Really? Come on Phil, this is tabloid stuff, really is.

  • Comment number 8.

    Quick couple of questions.

    1. Have Man City have a softish start?
    2. Have Man City been cocky?

    I think they have. Fergie is pointing out the obvious in my opinion.

    Another thing - Fergie knows the theory that apparently he only talks about people he regards as a threat. Knowing that some people may think this - do you still think he would only talk about people he regards as a threat? Or does he not care what people like us think?

  • Comment number 9.

    by cocky, I think Ferguson's point was the way City have gone about their business, putting themselves in contention for a title already when they have beat 3 poor teams and arsenal.

    They will always be the second club in Manchester regardless if they win on sunday or not. also by 'grabbing' Fergusons attention - they have hardly gone about their business in subtle fashion, hence the ridiculous welcome to Manchester posters around Manchester, something you would expect a fan to come out with not the clubs advertising department. that is as Fergie puts it poor stuff designed to rile United up, but in reality City will always be that small little club down the road in envy of the Mighty Manchester United!

  • Comment number 10.

    "All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can't get away from it" hahahahahahahahahah

    “The fans are always behind us” "The crowd were dead it was like a funeral out there."

    Make up your mind man

    And the mother of all mental distortions:

    Ferguson has declared “Carlos Tevez is not worth the £25million his advisors wanted to turn his "lease" period into a permanent deal with Manchester United” United own website says and I quote” "The club agreed to pay the option price of £25.5 million ($42m) and offered Carlos a five year contract which would have made him one of our highest-paid players at the club.”Disappointingly however, his advisors informed the club that, despite the success he has enjoyed during one of the club's most successful periods, he does not wish to continue playing for Manchester United.

    This man getting worried, very worried

  • Comment number 11.

    Time will tell if the citizens are elated at the end of the season due to thier new found optimisim or if the smile is wiped off for inablity of winning anything at the end of the season. Right now they are just on top of the world anticipating their club to crash into the big four.

    My verdict is a 6th place finish in the league and semifinals of FA cup.

  • Comment number 12.

    The first sentence of this blog tells me all I need to know.

    In my opinion, Ferguson's comments are given an authority based on his longevity in his position and achievements, rather than his class, which is seriously lacking.

    Such attention paid to him is a sign of a self obsessed media who rather overstate their position in the game. The media often run pieces which allude to the 'fat' of the game, (money and other excesses) and yet without it, they would suffocate and die.

  • Comment number 13.

    Exactly right, if Fergie is having a pop at you it's because he genuinely feels that you're a danger and need to be tackled. Hughes is an old hand in Ferguson's tactics himself so surely he'll see the real truth behind the words.

    Adebayor's been debated to death, but the bottom line Fergie points out is extremely accurate. Thanks to Adebayor's personal choices, arguably over the past 18 months in fact, a £25m striker is now unavailable for the very type of game he was bought for. He would've been a major asset against Man Utd and City will need to really be focused to succeed here.

    If Hughes can spirit up a victory with so much attacking talent out, that would be major kudos for him.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'd have thought a BBC journalist wouldn't be quite so naive.

    Ferguson attends press conferences, gets asked questions and answers them. Simple. It's not some kind of evil and cunning plan to instigate the dreaded mind-games in an effort to destabilize City's season.

    If he didn't answer questions, or came up with a line like "I'm not talking about City" (especially in the build-up to the two teams meeting on Sunday) then you'd make a big song and dance about that too.

  • Comment number 15.

    Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?

    I'm yet to be convinced by the new city defence though, so I'd have to say united for the win. It should be a pretty interesting game.

  • Comment number 16.

    Incidentally Phil, I think I have found a blog that somehow has slower moderators than yours!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/09/playstation3_and_the_yellow_li.html

    There are clearly legal issues in that blog that simply are not present in your blog, so, once again, I ask why the BBC pre-moderate this blog. If the moderators themselves are unable to provide a link to the editorial guidelines on this issue, perhaps they would provide the contact details where I can question the policies and mechanics of the service which I pay for.

  • Comment number 17.

    With many of the big names out of City's squad I can not see them even presenting a sharp tool of threat to Utd.

    Everybody ought to know that it takes time to get the right team together and gel, not talking lego but real people here...so lets keep tabs on City's progress and see where they go from here.

    I think Utd will teach them the usual lesson until they are truelly ready for some serious football.

    Fergie never did have multimillions to build his first great team so can the same be said for Hughes?

  • Comment number 18.

    Perhaps those who thought Adebayor was justified in any of his actions last Saturday might like to reflect on his wisdom now, as he sits suspended on the margins of Old Trafford, with Robinho still out, Roque Santa Cruz still rehabilitating (the joke is that Santa might be ready in time for Christmas) and Carlos Tevez struggling with a knee injury.

    -----------------------

    Well, considering the ban is for his kick and not his celebration, I'm not sure this is relevant. There's no justification for his kick, it was either accidental or not (and it was deemed not); if it were accidental, that doesn't justify the action, just exonerates the accusation of ill intent.

    It would suggest you're bringing up the celebrations, rather than the kick; something that has no bearing on him not playing this weekend.

  • Comment number 19.

    I cant wait for this clash at the weekend, what makes it even sweeter is that all the money that City threw about bolstering their front line, and they have got one striker that is fit!

    Uts to win 2-1 i think....

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    The reality is that no one at City cares what Ferguson says.
    Utd are two bad seasons away from financial collapse, City dont have that pressure and the owners have stated that the aim this season is top 6.

    Ferguson is 68 in December and it seems extremely unlikely he will carry on beyond 70 especially if Utd fail to dominate in the way they have been doing.

    Utd fans talk of glibly of replacing Fergie with Mourinho or some other top manager and whilst I dont doubt they will attract a big name when Fergie goes, they dont seem to grasp the he is the Godfather of football, the FA eat out of his hand, referees bow and scrape to him "yes Sir Alex no Sir Alex" every City fan I know wish we had got him instead of Utd.

    Matt Busby cast a shadow at Utd that that it took nearly twenty years for somebody to walk out of, that was Ferguson, the shadow he will cast when he leaves will last even longer.

    Utd fans take him for granted but once he is gone Utd will lose the most powerful personality in British football and I for one cannot wait!

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 22.

    I seem to remember Cit-eh also having a very good start when Erickson first started his reign but it quickly fizzled out into another shambolic season. Whilst the media is jumping on the cit-eh bandwagon, come end of season there will only be one/two teams holding the trophies aloft and it wont be cit-eh!

  • Comment number 23.

    Can someone explain to me the difference between the welcome to manchester poster, and the Utd poster which said "1966 was a great year for english football....Eric was born"?

    Also didn't Fergie slate Benitez for calling everton a small club?

    Pot to Kettle, come in kettle!!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Interesting. Only 2 seasons ago we did the double over United. Small time club as well!
    If Ronaldo hadn't gone, he'd probably say nothing, knowing the likely outcome was a comfortable 2-0 win.
    If he isn't too fussed about Tevez, why even bother commenting?

    Let's face fact - the "City's best player won't be playing" comment sounds like a little bit of relief on Ferguson's part.

    Rattled? Concerned? Apprehensive?

    I think this season there's more 'face' to lose if we were to take points off them. Beating Arsenal, then taking points at Old Trafford? How dare they!

    That would take the spotlight off United, expose another chink in their armour - and really, how could he dismiss City then, especially after his playground comments.

    United will probably win on Sunday - and it's a big shame we can't field another one of our forwards, as I would have liked to have seen how we truly stand up to a great side.

    I was kind of looking forward to an 80 yard run from Tevez, a slide on the knees in front of the Stretford End and a 4-2 repeat of last weekend.....and then Tevez could receive his 3 match ban, rest his injury and look forward to more headline grabbing comments on Monday!

    Oh well - we'll have to wait for the home fixture for that then!!

    Andy Blue!

  • Comment number 25.


    So,

    "Ferguson also repeated his assertion that City behaved in an "arrogant and cocky" manner when they displayed a giant banner bearing Tevez's image and the words "Welcome to Manchester" in the city's main shopping area this summer, following the 25-year-old's move to Eastlands"

    How does he view the posters all over Manchester this summer advertising the DVD of their season, with the large heading "18 times, and that's a fact"

    Let's face it, the man makes Mr Magoo look like he has 20/20 vision.

  • Comment number 26.

    It took me a while to work out what WUM meant. It seemed to pop up a lot on these blogs then one day I finally worked it out - it means Wind Up Merchant.

    These blogs are full of them - they're not here for reasoned debate, they just surface either a) when their team wins or b) their biggest rival loses. Their primary objective is to gloat.

    But I would suggest that Phil, you are the biggest WUM of them all. I know it's your job description to stir up debate (therefore Wind-Up Merchant is actually quite apt) but when I read blogs like this, very calculated but with such little substance, it makes me laugh.

    Cue the flood, cue the petty squabbles, job done Phil.



  • Comment number 27.

    For all the Man Utd fans who say City have had an easy start and only beaten 3 poor teams and Arsenal....

    Did my eyes deceive me or did Man Utd lose to Burnley and were they not very fortunate to win against Arsenal after being second best for most of the match?

  • Comment number 28.

    Great to see lord frog worried. what a coincidence that the ban for Ade started right before such a big game.

    If i remember correctly, manu always can choose their FA hearing dates. In a way that the player gets to start his ban for the non important games. How come that rule only applies to manu and not the rest?

    would it have anyhting to do with Dabvid Gill being on the FA board?! Same way as Arsenal used to pick and choose the FA hearing dates, when Dein was on the FA board?

    Manu had a decent game against spurs but thats about it. Some of that was down to luck ( ie gigg's free kick as Gomes would;'ve save that) annd Hutton marking rooney for the 3rd goal!

    come end of the season, they will miss Ronaldo big time, his goals and assists.

    Rio is inujury prone and without Vidic, they would be a top 6 team max!
    come on Citeh!

  • Comment number 29.

    15. At 12:29pm on 18 Sep 2009, lost_the_flyaway wrote:
    Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?


    No.

  • Comment number 30.

    Fergie lacks class. Real shame.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hold on a minute. Just who have put City in contention for the title? The media have put us there, not the club. Phil is absolutley spot on with his blog. Ferguson has never had cause to comment about us in previous seasons, but he spent all summer talking about us. Mind games are off and running form Fergie while Hughes doesn't need to bother. Why should he lower himself to Ferguson's standard?

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog Phil, but I think SAF is only saying what many of the top 6 P/L managers will say , he is doing it ahead of the Derby match , answering questions put to him ,but is perceived as 'stoking the fires so to speak' , so be it.
    City have made progress with some good signings, Barry notably, and have indeed won all their matches so far, but I believe United will win on Sunday and until Hughesy can field his best team week in and week out his squad hasn't the quality to stay the course. I reckon, with luck, they will finish 4th, behind Arsenal, Chelsea and United to win the title again on the last day of the season.
    For me as always United are simply ' the best ' , why not I've supported them since 57'.

  • Comment number 33.

    15. At 12:29pm on 18 Sep 2009, lost_the_flyaway wrote:
    Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?

    I'm yet to be convinced by the new city defence though, so I'd have to say united for the win. It should be a pretty interesting game.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    They didn't take all the derby points last season - that was 2 years ago however I agree that Utd should win regardless of what side City have available - its too soon into the new regime for City to challenge Utd

  • Comment number 34.

    Some good points, some bad.

    You keep mentioning how it was a shame City's win over Arsenal was overshadowed by the Ade' incidents.... yet you keep harping on about said incidents.

  • Comment number 35.

    Again this comment/idea that City are above their stations......think they can win the title.......cocky attitude.....etc etc.

    Please, can somebody, City fan or not, explain when, where and how we have suddenly said, claimed or stated any of these observations that so many experts and fans seem to think we have.

    I'm bewildered!

    Andy Blue

  • Comment number 36.

    Personally, I'm glad to see City being talked about as contenders for the top 4, Spurs as well actually. Its certainly gonna make the season more interesting.

    Can't see them beating Utd this weekend though, we're gonna be too strong for them. That said, I seem to remember getting thumped 1-4 by Liverpool at OT last season, and without Torres or Gerrard, so I'm taking nothing for granted.

    2-1 United for me

  • Comment number 37.

    If City really are the club of Manchester then perhaps now, after their lottery win, they can pay the council back for building them a ground? Giving money back to the people?

  • Comment number 38.

    Fergie can be as arrogant as he wants. Man Utd are Premier Leauge Champions. Till united lose this title there is nothing no other team supporters can shout about.

    he has every right to put opponents down. man City are one of the teams in the way of Utd not winning the league and he wants to take pressure of his players/team and put the pressure on the other teams.

    As they say come May we will find out if his arrogance back fires or not? Till then leave fergie alone and supporters should concentrate on their own team/manager.

  • Comment number 39.

    No 15, Last season's results were City 0 United 1, and United 2 City 0. Your probably thinking of the season before when City did the double. Pity Adebayor isn't playing, it would be nice to beat their first team.

  • Comment number 40.

    Does anyone else find it ironic that a club which had over 10 strikers at one point only has 2 poor ones (Bellamy and Benjani) to choose from on the weekend? XD

  • Comment number 41.

    23. At 12:44pm on 18 Sep 2009, Huangben wrote:

    Can someone explain to me the difference between the welcome to manchester poster, and the Utd poster which said "1966 was a great year for english football....Eric was born"?

    ------------------

    If you need it explained to you then you would not understand the explanation. If you don't need it explained to you then you are a wind up merchant. Either way - I don't think anyone is going to waste much time on you.

  • Comment number 42.

    15. At 12:29pm on 18 Sep 2009, lost_the_flyaway wrote:
    Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?

    I'm yet to be convinced by the new city defence though, so I'd have to say united for the win. It should be a pretty interesting game.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    city didnt take 1 point of us last season, never mind 6

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes, Ade is not going to play BUT.... somebody will be taking his place! It's not like City will be playing with 10 men. City still have enough talent and drive to beat utd. 3-1 for city and this will blow the season wide open and at such an early stage! It's been coming for years and it looks like its finally here. We now have more than 4 teams to worry about.

    Good times!!!

    YNWA

  • Comment number 44.

    Aren't Fergies comments you quote the old ones from when the banner went up Phil. He doesn't seem to have gone into any great detail on them in the main article.

    In fact the final remark about him viewing Liverpool as the big one surely gives a more realistic portrayal of where he views City.

    Most of it comes from the media anyway, these are not random outbursts from fergie but answers to questions raised by journalists who chose to direct to City because they can make headlines from it. Any arrogance you can attribute to City does not come from the fans but from Gary Cook and Mark Hughes who love a soundbite.

    I suspect he views them similarly to Chelsea during Abromovich's first season. Plenty of money, signed some top premiership players but still without a top manager or any world class signings that were coverted by the traditionally big clubs around Europe, signings like Cech, Robben Drogba and Essien who along with Mourinho helped turn Chelsea from a good side into a great one. That will come with time of course and with it so will Fergie's undivided attention provided he hasn't retired by then.

    As for the game you would expect United with no injuries save for Hargreaves to be able to find a way past a City side lacking in firepower. It's a shame Adebayor, Tevez and Robinho are unavilible as Hughes may well go for damage limitation. Lescott and Toure have added some stability as has Gareth Barry but none of them have excelled against United in the past. If Darren Fletcher is able to keep Ireland in his back pocket as he did superbly in May then I can see this as 2 or 3-0 to United.

    If United can make it 3/3 wins against top 6 challengers in succession they will feel confident of mounting a serious title challenge. A City win and Hughes will feel a top 4 spot is realistic.

    Will probably be 0-0 now!

  • Comment number 45.

    City will be enjoying the mind games as it means they have hit United's radar, justifiably.
    To assert there is not a 'crumb of credibility' in City's title ambitions is a very bold prediction and one that I hope to remind Phil McNulty of at the end of the season.
    Frankly Chelsea are favourites and as outside bets, City have as much chance as MU for different reasons. City is a newly assembled squad yet to be fully extended and tested. Utd have lost key players and are relying too heavily on the old guard, mainly Scholes and Giggs who are unlikely to go through the season injury free.
    City fans are looking forward to the Derby more than the United fans I speak to. That tells its own story.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ferguson is obviously concerned for the moment, City certainly have the side to challenge for the title. However regardless of the result on Sunday little will be decided. Two seasons ago City beat United home and away however it wasn't a sign that they were up to challenging for the title, they actually have a pretty good record this century in head to heads against United.

    It may actually tell us more about City's capability to challenge for the title if they lose. So far everything has been going well for City in terms of results, however the current injury problems which have been exacerbated by Adebayor's actions. If City do get knocked back on Sunday it'll be intresting to see how they react.

    In the long term talented as this City side are, they are far to many players with combustible personalities in the changing room. That fact was shown to everyone by Hughes being forced to defend not only Adebayor's celebration but his stamp on Van Persie. Hughes position is too weak to allow him to stand up to individuals and once one of Adebayor, Robinho, Tevez or Bellamy start playing up it's only a matter of time.

  • Comment number 48.

    A very poor piece. The initial premise, that Ferguson only talks about teams he's worried about, is weak. He talks about the opposition, and knows that United fans are going to want to hear him having a go at City... however mildly.

  • Comment number 49.

    Blog is as clear as a dark room. SAF rightly used the pre match conference as a reminder to Citeh of who exactly they locking fists with. Comments made cannot please the opposition in this instance as this is not an equal fight.

    Good starts are all very well but not a basis to stand tall and be noticed just yet.



  • Comment number 50.

    "pretty lame attempt at a wind up"?????

    You're still talking about it Phil.

  • Comment number 51.

    Guess the Manchester Disco's will be busy .........who will look after the handbags when they go to the loo?

  • Comment number 52.

    37. At 1:04pm on 18 Sep 2009, Born_Again wrote:
    If City really are the club of Manchester then perhaps now, after their lottery win, they can pay the council back for building them a ground? Giving money back to the people?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The lottery paid for an Athletics stadium for the 2002 Commonwealth games, if City hadnt agreed to rent the stadium and pay £30million to have it converted to a football stadium it would have been knocked down and the tax payer would have been more out of pocket.

    If you live in Manchester (unlikely I know) then you can contact Manchester City Council to see if there is any way they can get out of the 100 year agreement they signed with City and thus recover a pro rata % of the small amount £20million I believe that was there contribution to the City of Manchester Stadium.

    Plus you can write the national lottery with proof of purchase of lottery tickets you purchased pre 2002 and again ask for a pro-rata refund.

    You may also note that Man Utd have received many millions of lottery money to re-develop Old Trafford in order to implement the Taylor enquiry recommendations after 1990, they also received Government to build the original United road in time for the 1966 World Cup, maybe you can ask for some of that money back as well.


    Thanks.

  • Comment number 53.

    The other side of the coin is that it is not always wise to make Ferguson and Manchester United angry.

    -------------------------------
    Why Phil? Not everyone is as scared of 'sir' Alex as the media and especially the BBC; who, incidentaly owe him no favours.

    He must laugh his head off at the sycophantism!

  • Comment number 54.

    I dont think Ferguson does take them that seriously. The banner thing and City's sabre rattling since Tevez went there has annoyed Ferguson though i have no doubt. Bad for City, as all they have achieved now is to make Man U want to make sure that City know that Manchester will never carry more than one truly top Club.

  • Comment number 55.

    15. At 12:29pm on 18 Sep 2009, lost_the_flyaway wrote:
    Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?
    ------------------------------------------------------

    no, united took all 6 last season. 1-0 in the middle east and 2-0 at OT

  • Comment number 56.

    Its the "Genuflect to Alex Ferguson" column.
    Hero worship at its finest. Dear oh dear.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Didn't city take all 6 derby points last season? Without all the mega signings?"

    Uh no. The season before maybe... The poster of Tevez was childish and SAF was right to describe it as such. However, that said, I am looking forward to this match as will many City supporters. We should win being at home but it will be an interesting match for footballing reasons for a change and will be a good indicator as to where City really are. Looking forward to fireworks between Bellamy, Vidic, Wright Phillips, Evra, Rooney and Richards as well! If Tevez is fit it will be a great match to watch:)

  • Comment number 58.

    #36 Purple German - I also recall utd getting stuffed by Liverpool at Ot last season - I also seem to recall that Vidic had a bad game and got done for speed by Torres for the first goal and Gerard got the second from the spot. That's almost as bad a recollection as the City fan thinking they got six points last year against Utd!

  • Comment number 59.

    So Fergie is on a mission to show City their place, a club he feels that are 'getting ideas above their station'. And now Liverpool are more of an equal for a derby than the neighborhood parvenu City. Commendably SAF is graceful enough to acknowledge that Adebayor's self inflicted enforced absence will be of help; or he is being 'the most calculating orator of the PL'? Simultaneous belittling of Tevez' influence would take some nerve, except that the Argentine is on injury list as well as out of form. Admirable! I have yet to come across a manager who relishes his hapless opponent's predicament more and takes the trouble to rub it in too.

    How one really gets pushed into wishing the derby were better timed or Adebayor wiser to bide his vengeance on his former club until a visit to the Emirates.

  • Comment number 60.

    Fergie was simply answering reporters' questions regarding City, without any mind games intended.
    Nice to see the FA has acted so rapidly (for whatever reason) and banned Adebayor in time for this derby. I'm sure he would've been a great threat.

    United to win 2-0 (Rooney is on fire!!!)

  • Comment number 61.

    31 - you commented that it was the media that talked up Man city, but if a club spends £200m on players plus offering weekly wages more than any other club in 1 year 6th is not good enough. The media is only reacting to Man city's actions.

  • Comment number 62.

    "In my opinion, Ferguson's comments are given an authority based on his longevity in his position and achievements, rather than his class, which is seriously lacking".

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HEAR, HEAR!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    I think this is the best time to play against man city with all the strikers being out. Can't see it going any other way than a 2-0 win to the reds. Rooney is going to run riot!

  • Comment number 64.

    Lets not get carried away with City's start to the season.
    It has been impressive but for parts of all the games they have played they have been second best for cetain periods.

    You can get away with this against Wolves and Portsmouth but Man Utd at Old Trafford will be a different task altogether.

    If City want a result at Old Trafford the back four and more importantly Shay Given will have to play well, keeping Rooney quiet will be key.

    For me Rooney is the best attacking threat in the premier league and so far this season he has been the best player in the league (along with Defoe).

    If Utd play like they did last week there will only be one winner, City need to keep it tight early and hit on the break when they can.
    If they can ride the early pressure and get Vidic one on one against Bellamy or Sean WP(like Torres on both occasions last year)then they could nick it.

    For me it will be Utd to win 2-0 but even that result won't be a disatster for City. Their final position won't be decided by Visits to Old Trafford what they do against the lesser teams and those with aspirations of Europe will be key.

    Just look at last seaon, Liverpool didn't loose the league at Old Trafford....they lost it against Stoke, West Ham and Fulham.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think the comments from Taggart were beyond the pale.

  • Comment number 66.

    Not sure about a "softish start" for Man City. Is Arsenal, Pompey, Wolves
    and Blackburn more "softish" than Arsenal, Wigan, Burnley and Birmingham?

    In their first four games both have had Arsenal plus three likely strugglers. The only difference I can see is that Man Utd lost to Burnley (does this mean Burnley aren't soft?) and that Blackburn are probably a lot harder than Birmingham or Wigan.

    Ferguson generally spouts a lot of guff - but because he is a great manager and his team wins more often than not, this guff is interpreted as brilliant "mind games". The only person he's ever bested in a "mind game" is Keegan - the equivalent of stealing pocket money off the softest boy in Year 1.

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't see the basis of a story in this Phil, I really don't.

    Ferguson is a master of the put-down and could lecture in convenient double standards when it suits him most. However, he knows it and he does it deliberately! Why can't people just wake up to the fact that this is what he does and what he does like no-one else in football.

    He does it to fire his team up, to get the fans going and to bring as many positives onto his side as possible before that whistle blows.

    The thing is, he has been doing it for 25 years.

    I feel sorry for City fans because of their lack of strikers, but I suspect there is a thorough drubbing in line for them at Old Trafford. One is due and it wouldn't surprise me if City get it.

    I'll watch it for the sheer fun of Manchester derbies, but if City win it doesn't mean much at all. Likewise, if United win it doesn't mean much either. There just isn't a story behind the comments or the match and the possible outcomes. It is too early and the teams are nowhere near each other in terms of competing for honours on a serious level.

  • Comment number 68.

    #53. Very good point, Ferguson refuses to speak to the BBC after his son was alleged to have been implicated in financial irregularities uncovered by the beeb.
    Ferguson views the BBC as "unaccountable and with its own agenda".

    Like you I dont understand why the BBC bow and scrape to someone who views them with such contempt.

  • Comment number 69.

    24. At 12:50pm on 18 Sep 2009, blueboy0304 wrote:
    If he isn't too fussed about Tevez, why even bother commenting?
    ------------------------------------------------------
    do people not understand that these comments are made in a press conference and what a press conference actually is ?
    he didnt just turn up with a list and just read off a set of comments he wanted to make *cough* rafa *cough*.

  • Comment number 70.

    Can’t falt Fergie, always has something to say about the opposition on eves of big games!

    http://sportales.com/soccer/another-fergie-masterstroke/

  • Comment number 71.

    i wonder about your second to last paragraph?? "in reality city won't be title contenders- too early..." how long did it take w/ abromovich's cash? or i remember a large infusion to a german side and the following year they almost won the title on the final day of the season. in usa in baseball wayne huizinga bought a title w/ the florida marlins only to dismantle the team the following year. the reality is today that money rules in sport and it may not take so long b/c they already have a good coach and relatively decent infrastructure @ the club. it very possibly a title winning season could happen this year. look @ how it's playing out- off to a fantastic start even w/ important injuries and those injured players may come back just in time to add depth and competition and nip any possible upcoming dip in form. and of course they did get rid of dunne which helps in the back. i like man city's chances very much and would be careful ruling them out so easily...

  • Comment number 72.

    Teams are still perfecting their strategies that's why city are winning. Same with Spurs but lets see how they do from Week 10. I see city and spurs below Everton and Villa again. United will wipe them clean.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good article Phil. Can I just say that other than the big game on Sunday, I for one am pleased that Manchester as a whole is receiving more and more recognition as the important city in the world of football. We have two great teams now who can challenge each other not only in England but in Europe as well. As a proud United fan who lives in Manchester, I don't feel any hatred towards City (I hate arrogance, I hate Arsenal) and as long as they respect United for what we have built through the years and not just overnight like them, then I wish them luck for the season.

    United will win 2-0 on Sunday.

  • Comment number 74.

    honestly philip what are you babbing on about. of course fergie is going to coment onthe bitters. look at what hey are doing with someone elses money an they are our city rivals. mercy me. lord knows how much you get paid in taxpayers money to over analyse and write this spin. do you ever have anything good or sensible to say about the 18 times champions of england, 3 times in a row 07-09 back to back european cup finalists (winning one)?? do ya?? oh i forgot we got beaten in one game by barca (another day we would have beaten them) ad we lost ronnie to the madrid circus zzzzzzz oh no, dig the grave its the end of the champions. so sodull and predictable is your weekly collumm and the rest of the country's hopefull anti united media. why i read this dross is begining to need some serious consideration. asa match going red - not a skysports couch muppet i find you deeply depressing. just imagine if we lose to ciddy on sunday, then my cra-Z little friend we will surely be relegation fodder and ciddy will be champions of the universe elect. the thing about us is we cant win them all, we just win most. i joined this site today to tell you your a tool in the machine mate. the problem with football today. crushing the passion. please do one x CHAMPIONS x

  • Comment number 75.

    Taggart again giving his typical hypocritical comments. Why do you bother attending his interviews as he will never speak to the BBC!

    Hoping city stuff them and Tevez gets on the scoresheet

  • Comment number 76.

    City are like the drunk who wins the lottery. A perpetual loser who comes into some money, has a good time while the money lasts and then goes back to Skid Row when the cash runs out.

  • Comment number 77.

    Fergie never did have multimillions to build his first great team so can the same be said for Hughes?

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Sorry? can somebody please count up how much Ferguson has spent in his time at Utd because i don't have a calculator. Every season he buys at least 1 player for more than 20 million. People are only making a fuss about city because they have spent it in one go in a bid to try and catch up.



    Also the 'Welcome to Manchester' poster did exactly its job... It wound Utd up and provoked a reaction from Ferguson.

  • Comment number 78.

    It's an obvious point to be honest. Every fan in the country knows that Fergie only talks in the media about title challenging teams.

    In truth, his mind games really work against him. As they just show you which teams are getting to him, and which aren't.

    As you see with Wenger and Keegan, who both were on the receiving end of Fergie rants for years - as soon as they stop challenging seriously, as managers, then they suddenly become his mates.

    It's no surprise that Fergie's best friends and lietenants in football are Allardyce and Redknapp - two guys who have spent the last 20 years in mid table.

    Fergie had no issue with Man City, until they started buying decent players, and winning games.

    It just shows that under the gusto, he's an inherintely weak, paranoid man

  • Comment number 79.

    Andy Blue - "Again this comment/idea that City are above their stations......think they can win the title.......cocky attitude.....etc etc.

    Please, can somebody, City fan or not, explain when, where and how we have suddenly said, claimed or stated any of these observations that so many experts and fans seem to think we have."

    The media as usual are just trying to put words in our mouth. Unless they've been speaking to a load of kids who all are going to say "We will win the league!" Real City fans who have been going to games for 15+ years like myself know not to get too far ahead of ourselves. Yes, it's a good start to the season and to be fair we'd have expected to beat the first 3 teams we played anyways, but the win against Arsenal was good (despite the whole you-know-who saga.)

    I can't really see us winning without Ade, but we are capable of a draw, we've done it before with much worse players - replace Thatcher/Barton/Jihai with Lescott/Barry/Richards and you'll see we can at least be solid and committed.

    Also, all these people saying we're going to go out in January and spend millions again, we have already stated that we plan to invest in the youth a lot more, which should be good because we've got some smashing youngsters, like Weiss, I'd like to see him get a few more appearances in this season!

  • Comment number 80.

    Phil - City have massively outspent all bar Real Madrid this year so its hardly suprising their results have improved and their profile is rising is it? You say that they "must be doing something right", but its not like they've got there through good management.

    Madrid have hoovered up all of the world class talent for sale this summer and City have signed anyone not quite up to RM standards who is willing to sacrifice Champions League football for huge bundles of cash. Funnily enough, quite a few players fall into that category, especially with debt and the credit crush restricting big 4 spending this year.

    I do however like your point about picking a fight with Fergie. Its good to be noticed by him but he has ultimately seen off the vast majority of people he has taken on. Why should City be any different?

  • Comment number 81.

    I like Man Utd fans, they remind me of Australian's. Totally and utterly convinced that the only result when their team plays, is victory........

  • Comment number 82.

    Damn I'm getting excited for Sunday!! As a City fan, I look at our team without the players we are missing and still feel we are well equipped to go to Old Trafford and get a result. I am still realistic though. We've had a dream start to the season, and for any team to get beat away to United is no major issue. If Chelsea were to play at Old Trafford on Sunday and get beat, they'd still be my favourites for the title. In fact, I'd tip United to beat any team in their own back yard. Not this sunday though!!

  • Comment number 83.

    without their four main forwards i believe they will swamp the midfield and hope to use the pace of swp or petrov on the flanks. Evra vs swp should prove interesting but i believe petrov holds the key to any city success. No doubt Bellamy will be a threat as he was against my team last saturday but i still don`t see Utd losing this. Maybe a draw, rooney is excelling and vidic/ferdinand is pretty strong defensively.
    Longer term city will make it a top 5 as they have picked up motivated players in adebayor & tevez and Barry is playing brilliantly alonside de jong. Ferguson is probably not fussed about whatever anyone says aslong as his team is top in May. Im going for a 1-1 or 2-1 United.

  • Comment number 84.

    It just shows that under the gusto, he's an inherintely weak, paranoid man

    ------------------------------------

    If you say that about a man who has won 11 out of 17 premiership titles, what does it say about his fellow managers????

  • Comment number 85.

    I dont understand how exactly Ferguson can 'not talk about City' in a press conference just before the game against the same opponents. If he had talked about them when they werent due to play them, then you may have a valid point, but saying Ferguson must be aware or 'scared' of City when they are his next opponents is crazy!

  • Comment number 86.

    No 52.
    Whooosh ..... You missed the point completely, the lotter win he was on about was being bought by rich owners.

  • Comment number 87.

    City to pull off a shock win, I reckon .... nothing to lose and Utd have not looked that good this year

  • Comment number 88.

    once again the BBC shows it unjustified fear of alic. what another "great" piece of writing from the chief football writer after yesterdays ill thought mumblings.

    and once again we have an exhibition from alic in respect for others. no wonder most people can't stand the arrogant, rude disrespectful little man.
    let's all remember this when another manager has a pop at alic and the BBC defend him once again. every season he comes out with more mindless nonsense and we are expected to say "ooo, it's mind games. oooo, he is the master" what a load of piffle. the bloke is beyond the pale.

  • Comment number 89.

    Fergie has always been the biggest hypocrit in football.

    He has broken the British transfer record more times than every other club put together (in recent memory), yet criticizes all other clubs for spending big.
    His squads have contained some of the dirtiest players ever to grace the top flight (and still do, think Vidic, Scholes), yet criticizes any foul on his own players.
    He criticizes other clubs for poaching young players, yet Utd are the masters at it, Beckhams transfer was so dodgy employment law had to be changed and how did they manage to sign Fabio, Rafael and Macheda and those are just from the current squad.

    Anyone who actually believes anything that comes out of Fergies mouth, is clearly a deluded fool.

  • Comment number 90.

    Not bothered what man u think,tomorrow will test us against them and i wouldn't put it past City to nick it by the odd goal,then fergie might get on another plane and clear off to a far away place,as he did when we won 2-1 in stretford last time.

  • Comment number 91.

    I couldn't agree more Socrates (#26). It never ceases to amaze me that Phil McNulty is the chief football writer for the BBC when all he ever seems to do is sum up an event in the news that week in an attempted controversial manner. He rarely offers his own opinion or sums anything up decisively. You read his article week after week and realise that you never learnt anything you didn't know already. Comapare this to someone like Tim Vickery's S. American blog and it becomes clear what I mean.

  • Comment number 92.

    In the end it is a case of the old money aristocracy looking down on the
    their neighbors new found wealth. City will eventually buy success. They will continue to pay the most staggering amounts in transfer fees and wages until they win something. If they make the CL next season, they will do a Real and completely break the bank. This bothers the old order, City eats steaks with salad forks and adorn their new mansions with tacky leather sofas. They'll never be good enough for their neighbors.

  • Comment number 93.

    I know this will sound crazy Phil, but just run with me on this one ok? Maybe, just maybe, the reason Ferguson talked about City's sad little 'Welcome to Machester' banner was that he was asked his opinion on it. As others have already pointed out, he isn't some sort of coniving psychologist who delights in messing with minds to gain an advantage. It's just the retarded way other people react or just act (Benitez reading out that sad little list at Christmas time last year) that makes him look like a genius in mind games.

  • Comment number 94.

    Pretty poor article by your standards Phil. Think your making a mountain out of nothing.

    With regards to hostilities thawing with Wenger because of Arsenal's lack of trophies, you're failing to take into account the season before last. Arsenal had an excellent season and very nearly won the premiership. I don't recall any hostilities during that season.

  • Comment number 95.

    I disagree with you Phil - I believe City could mount a title challenge this year. I think it's unlikely, but possible.

    And you make a good point that Fergie talking about City could mean he is worried about them, I hadn't thought of that. To be honest, I see Sir Alex more as a "say it like it is" manager - he's not afraid to speak his mind. He spoke out to say Adebayor should be banned for violent conduct. I haven't heard a single person who disagrees with that (Mark Hughes and Adebayor himself aside). He spoke out against City's "Welcome to the end of your career" poster with Tevez on it. The poster was clearly designed to rile Fergie (and United), and if he had remained silent I would have been very impressed - few managers would have. Fergie has also stood up to Benitez's bullying and put him in his place time and time again. Fergie speaks his mind and speaks the truth. And for that - and also his undoubted managerial skill - I respect him greatly.

    I for one wish I was at Old Trafford this weekend. If Tevez plays, then I really hope the crowd boos him. Although I don't condone booing players in most situations, when a player who is so loved by the fans and is offered a new contract leaves claiming "I still love the fans and they love me, but I was not wanted at the club", he is clearly moving because of the money. It can't be that he wants better quality football; champions league football; or more loving fans. It is purely about the money, despite his claims. And for that, I would boo him. This is against my character, but I want him to know how much he upset/annoyed us with his lies, and how much we wanted him to stay at the biggest and best club in the world!

  • Comment number 96.

    Pato, are you really so stupid that you can sit there and say "Fergie never did have multimillions to build his first great team so can the same be said for Hughes?".

    So according to you all the £20-30m purchases (rooney, rio etc.) that he has made don't count. Here's a tip - do some research before engaging your stubby fingers.

    Oh, and if you bothered to check then you would realise that United don't 'usually' beat City, but I realise that you, as an armchair supporter, wouldn't be aware of that. (we did the double over 'nited' the season before last but maybe you only started supporting them last season so wouldn't know that)

  • Comment number 97.

    Spot on.
    Ferguson tends to make two kinds of comments:
    a) his true opinion
    b) winding up opposition he worries about.

    Manchester City have, so far, proven this year that:
    a) they are capable of holding clean sheets.
    b) they are capable of not falling and withstand pressure
    c) they have a 1st class attacking line up.
    d) in De Jong and Barry, they have a defensive blanket in front of a good back four line.

    I believe, the most worrying thing, for Ferguson's point of view is if Manchester City do qualify for the Champions League for next year and invest another £100+ million on key world class performers. Now, that would be a worry. And, if it is a worry for my club, Manchester United and for Chelsea, then it might bring ice cold sweat on Arsenal and Liverpool.

  • Comment number 98.

    So Ade will not be playing. It doesn't mean City will have 10 men! I think City has enough quality and passion for this match to win it and I hope they do.

    Atlast we have a season that isn't just about the fab four. Ofcourse I want Liverpool to win it but I won't hold my breath. Atleast with other teams looking stronger it gives us a better chance at slowing down the utd train.

    City to win 3-1

    YNWA

  • Comment number 99.

    Joking apart I think the writing is on the wall.

    Utd have had unbelievable success for 20 years and built a stadium to hold 75,000 and had people who couldnt get in. City have virtually doubled their attendance in the last few years and now regularly sell out their 47,000 seat stadium. Utd on the other hand only now sell out for the big games, they still get big crowds but all trends start with a trickle.

    Blackburn went from having crowds of 8,000 to crowds of 30,000 on the back of success, I think City could finish up being the best supported team in Manchester in a few years, people want to watch a winning side. In the 30's and 40's City were the best supported team in Manchester, in fact Utd went close to going out of business before Matt Busby arrived. In China they believe everything is cyclic and I believe City and Utd could swap places a lot sooner than anyone may think.

  • Comment number 100.

    86. At 2:22pm on 18 Sep 2009, sportyredkoppite wrote:
    No 52.
    Whooosh ..... You missed the point completely, the lotter win he was on about was being bought by rich owners.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Whooosh, yes Ide worked that bit out!

    The context of my comments were self explanatory so if you didnt understand the first time around there is little point in my going over old ground.

 

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