Alex Ferguson regards Liverpool as Manchester United's real local rivals

Manchester City may have spent £120million on new players - but Sir Alex Ferguson will always regard Liverpool as Manchester United's true local rivals.

Not since 1968, when United won the European Cup and City finished top of the old Division One have Manchester's two giants met on anything like an equal footing.

But the pair go head to head at Old Trafford on Sunday with far more than bragging rights at stake.

United are looking for victory to enhance their chances of landing a record fourth consecutive title, while City bid to extend a four-match winning streak that will raise optimism about a sustained championship challenge.

However, while Ferguson is aware of the threat, after 23 years of dominance over City, his natural instinct remains to view the threat from Merseyside as more acute and dangerous.

"I don't know. I don't think so," replied Ferguson when asked whether the derby could one day be bigger than those titanic tussles with Liverpool.

"To me Liverpool will always be the derby game.

"It is just because of the history. When I came down here they were the king-pins of England. They had won four European Cups and quite a few league titles.

"My aim was to do well against them and to try and turn that round. It is hard for me to go against that history."

The United boss sent a few barbs in City's direction as he assessed Sunday's game, mainly in the assessment of what constitutes success for a club who have achieved so little for so long but now find themselves muscling their way onto the top table.

There is, though, one pretty significant irritation, in the shape of the provocative Carlos Tevez poster proclaiming: "Welcome to Manchester."

Ferguson was unhappy at the time when it went up at one end of Manchester's busy Deansgate shopping area, emphasising as it did City's claim to be the city's only club bearing in mind Old Trafford is outside the boundaries. It still irks him now.

"That stupid poster upset us," he said.

"It showed an arrogance. It was naughty. It showed a cockiness that wasn't required at the time because they hadn't done anything.

"The season hadn't even started."

Clearly, there is more to the irritation than losing a player who was integral to two championship wins and a couple of Champions League finals.

Ferguson stated in the summer a private belief that Tevez wasn't worth a figure in excess of £30million. To hear the suggestion City actually paid £47million is eye-watering.

"It doesn't bother me one bit whether Tevez is playing or not," said Ferguson.

"I know their best player won't be. Emmanuel Adebayor has been their star player. There is no question about that.

"He has scored in every game. That is their loss."

Even Ferguson was smiling when he described the contest as "small", knowing just how much attention will be focused on it, not just in Manchester and the north west of England, but worldwide.

Yet the words he has kept hearing about City relate to their ability to reach the top four, breaking, as it would, the cartel that has existed in England for too long.

Ferguson himself has no interest in the top four - only in being number one.

"The things City are doing don't particularly worry me," he said.

"What we concern ourselves with is winning the league.

"People talk about trying to get into the top four. That is not the question. The question is who is number one.

"Manchester City have been given the chance to be better than Manchester United.

"But when you spend that kind of money there is an expectation. The challenge has to be for them to try and win something, whether it is the league or the FA Cup.

"They will be expected to challenge for these trophies without doubt."

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone