Apparently the boys next door have ramped things up a few decibels.
“They’re screaming now,” was how Sir Alex Ferguson put it Friday when asked if he still considered Manchester City to be “noisy neighbours.”
Given City’s dramatic championship success last season – achieved at Manchester United’s expense – the United manager could hardly have been expected to say much else. But despite being on the wrong end of two crucial derby losses last season – including a humbling 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford – Ferguson ruled out using revenge as motivation for Sunday’s clash at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, the first meeting of the two rivals this season.
“I’ve never entered into the revenge stuff,” the Scot said. “It doesn’t work. But you don’t enjoy losing to anyone, let’s be straight about that point. The real end of getting results and the consequences of losing a game here is always huge. We’re either front page or back page and when we lose we’re front page, there’s no question about that.”
But while Ferguson feels it unlikely that the championship will be won by anyone outside Manchester – third-place Chelsea is seven points back of City, with United three points clear at the top after 15 games – of the two sides, City manager Roberto Mancini knows where he’d put his money if he were a gambling man.
“[United] are favourites for the title because they were a strong team and they bought [Robin] Van Persie, [Shinji] Kagawa,” Mancini said. “They put in their squad another player that scored 25 goals.”
The addition of Van Persie adds a new twist to the long-standing rivalry. After moving to United from Arsenal in the summer for £24-million ($38.1-million), the Dutch striker is set to play in his first Manchester derby. But he was no stranger to scoring big goals during his time with the Gunners, finding the back of the net five times in their North London derbies against Tottenham Hotspur.
And with 13 goals this season in just 19 appearances, Van Persie is clearly settling in at Old Trafford just fine. But United will need him to keep his run of form going to stand a chance of winning at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. City hasn’t lost at home in the league since Dec. 20, 2010.