Ferguson laughs off City threat

United manager hikes tensions ahead of tonight's derby, accusing rivals of putting cheap point-scoring above trophies

Sir Alex Ferguson suggested on the eve of another hugely resonant derby match that Manchester City's fans would rather see silverware than hear boasts from the club's marketing department about their team and appeared to deliver a dig at the club's chief executive, Garry Cook, for "getting carried away".

Ferguson, who suggested the Carlos Tevez poster which so infuriated him last season will have "embarrassed" fans, ridiculed the supporter who had "Manchester City – Champions League winners 2011" tattooed on his right shoulder at the start of last season and placed City's directors in the same category as him. "Unfortunately supporters are just as bad as directors," Ferguson said. "I think a lot of supporters would probably prefer to see a trophy paraded before they start getting carried away [and] screaming from the rooftops".

While a cool Roberto Mancini, who was dealt a blow when Mario Balotelli's three-game ban was upheld yesterday, refused to enter into the pre-match skirmishes, declared Ferguson "the best manager in the world", the United manager could not resist another dig at the Tevez "Welcome to Manchester" poster which still rankles. "It was probably some advertising gimmick somewhere along the line, but I don't think they can be proud of it," he said. "I don't see how they thought that would get more points off us as opposed to playing against us on a football pitch."

Ferguson did not refer by name to Cook, with whom he is acquainted having spent a cordial evening seated beside him at Manchester Town Hall two years ago, but the chief executive's suggestion in New York after City's 2-1 Carling Cup semi-final first-leg win over United in January that City were on course to overtake United and become "without doubt the biggest and best football club in the world" has not been lost on the opposing manager.

Cook has kept a lower profile since the incident and the owners have been keen to ensure he has more staff around him to guard against outsiders recording him at what he though was a private event. Despite this the club has still been making an impact on their city rivals. Wayne Rooney was mesmerised this summer by the near £200,000-a-week salary commanded by City's Yaya Touré and by flirting with departure across Manchester has secured himself £30,000-a-week more than United were initially willing to pay. Both Ferguson and Mancini dismissed the suggestion that City were interested in Rooney and Ferguson was predictably irritated by the question. Of City's interest in the 25-year-old, he exclaimed: "That's them. Don't ask me. Christ."

The closest Mancini got to any level of pre-match provocation was his suggestion that City's current view of United is that "we understand that we can always beat them now." That certainly seems to be the case this evening, with United missing Rooney, Ryan Giggs and almost certainly Nani, their most creative player. Ferguson is also unsure who will have recovered from the virus which laid him low last week and forced him to send his players home yesterday. Dimitar Berbatov has been unwell. For City, Emmanuel Adebayor reported a calf strain on Monday, but may be fit to play.

City are privately indignant about the Football Association's decision to refuse to reduce Balotelli's three-match ban for his straight red card at West Bromwich to one match, particularly since Tom Huddlestone has escaped a ban for what seemed a more clear-cut offence – an apparent stamp on Bolton's Johan Elmander. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan's long-awaited first league triumph over United at the stadium Ferguson likes to call the "Temple of Doom" would more than compensate, though Ferguson was caustic about suggestions that City were a challenge to be headed off. "Excuse me, Chelsea won the league last season," Ferguson said. "That's our challenge. We have to chase Chelsea and if you don't recognise who won the league the year before then you're very foolish."

Of City's spending, he said: "If people have money to spend and want to spend it, they'll spend it. It's just a fact of life; it's availability. The only difference is that City is an untapped well at the moment." Ferguson, who did not entirely dismiss the idea that Rooney may return from his enforced break at the Nike base in Portland, Oregon, fit to play for England in next week's friendly against France, has reluctantly accepted the departure of his reserve-team manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Solskjaer was named yesterday as the new manager of Molde, the Norwegian top-flight side from which United signed him in 1996.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower