Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed an intention to ram home the club's supremacy over Merseyside, declaring, in the course of expressing a hunger for a 20th title, that "it was Liverpool's time in the Eighties; it's our time now".
Ferguson has in recent years shied away from further provocative comments about Manchester United's encroachment on, and eclipse of, Liverpool's 18-title record and has not reiterated his legendary desire to knock them off their perch, expressed when Alan Hansen – a totem of 1980s Liverpool – had made public his doubts about United's prospects of winning the 2003 title, which they duly did.
But the record 19th title – the number is now nailed to the main Old Trafford entrance – has removed the risk of hubris and the manager, who once declared that "life will change for Liverpool and everybody else – dramatically" once United got going, has now described how it feels to have taken Liverpool's record. "It's special," he said. "This is a particularly special one because it means we've won the title more than anyone in the country. It's history and it's great for the tradition of this club."
Ferguson reiterated that he was "looking at possibly a couple, maybe three signings, which would boost our overall quality in the team". But Sunderland will try to take Darron Gibson and Wes Brown if manager Steve Bruce can secure £20m for Jordan Henderson, which he badly wants to do.
There is also a strong view from Portugal that Luis Nani, United's players' player of the year, has played his last game for the club, having concluded that he would have played only a minimal part this season if Antonio Valencia had not been injured for most of it.
Nani drew personal motivation from being part of a title-winning side in the absence of his close friend Cristiano Ronaldo and the accomplishment of that, coupled with the possible arrival of Young, will reaffirm his believe that he is simply not Ferguson's first choice. Valencia got the nod ahead of him in the Champions League final. Nani is only 18 months into a contract, though, and United may require a £20m offer to release him. Since Italy is a possible destination for him, one solution could be that he heads to Internazionale as part of a deal that would bring Wesley Sneijder in the other direction. Sneijder has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford since last summer and the view from the Netherlands is that a wage demand of £175,000 per week is the only impediment to such a move.
Ferguson told Inside United magazine that there was "a responsibility as the manager of Manchester United" to extend the lead on Liverpool to two titles, by collecting a 20th next May. "It doesn't go away. I'm not going to take it easy because we won the title. Hopefully we'll be better next season," said Ferguson, who is in a strong position to beat Liverpool to the signature of Aston Villa's Ashley Young.
"The only thing you can do at this club is win – that's all that matters. We have to carry on – there's nothing else you can do. We have a responsibility and expectation to live up to and that carries on next season. As I've always said, Manchester United should accept a challenge. We're good at that and, next season, we'll accept anything that comes our way."
A week after United's comprehensive defeat to Barcelona at Wembley, Ferguson's considered reflection on it is that matching the Catalans' brilliance is the "[only] way to address the situation". The United manager is considering giving himself as long as three years to eclipse Pep Guardiola's side and seems to be finding solace in his view that they have peaked. "This Barcelona side is the best team we have ever played," Ferguson said.
United scouts are monitoring Borussia Dortmund's Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who scored eight goals in 17 Bundesliga games after moving from J-League side Cerezo Osaka at the start of last season, but broke his right foot in January in the Asian Cup.
Rooney shows off his new weave
It was a case of hair we go for Wayne Rooney yesterday as he posted a picture on Twitter of his new hair transplanted scalp. "Hi all there's my head," he wrote. "It will take a few months to grow. Still a bit bloody to [sic]. That's normal."
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