Sir Alex Ferguson declared last night after wresting the Premier League title back from Manchester City that Roberto Mancini had failed to recognise that United players were simply better at winning games.
The Manchester United manager, whose 13th title and the club's 20th was delivered by Robin van Persie's hat-trick, said that he had read Mancini's quotes, claiming United were no better than City. "The games between us, there is nothing in it," Ferguson said. "But in the rest of the games we are far better. He doesn't recognise that we are better than Man City at beating other teams. The derby games bring two teams to a level. It always brings them together - apart from that stupid performance of ours at Old Trafford (last season's 6-1 defeat) which costs us the league really, we won't make that mistake again."
In a rare appearance in the Old Trafford press conference room, Ferguson said that van Persie had made "as big an impact" as any of his United signings and bracketed him with Eric Cantona - some tribute. In a revelation of how painful it must have been for Wenger to lose his best player, who headed north in search of a title, to give up van Persi, Ferguson said: "I remember Arsene saying 'he's a better player than you think' after I'd done the deal and he was right. He has never disappointed us. I knew he could gel into the team."
Ferguson made an equally big claim on the development of Phil Jones, declaring after his disply in his favourd central defensive role that "he may be one of the best players we have ever signed. He has such a massive influence, instinct, reading of the game."
He dismissed the idea that this is not his strongest title-winning team. "I think it's dead easy to say that, to be honest with you. Nostalgia plays tricks in peoples' minds. It's like when you say 'when I was a boy things weren't the same. Blah blah blah. Nostalgia plays tricks but you need context: 84 points with four games left. We've never done that."
On the question of how this title compared with the rest Ferguson said: "I think when you win the title it doesn't matter which year. You have to think the first one is the best one because it takes away the pressure." Van Persie' second volleyed goal was "goal of the season I don't know about the rest of them!" And he said that this title was likely to make him continue managing. "iIt's taken ten years off me. Bloody hell its these tablets they are great! I think we have a nucleus of players who are young enough we expect them to improve. It's not asking too much of players to improve."
Ryan Giggs said he was invigorated to go on too. "Well, we went on that second lap of honour tonight and I'm saying 'where are you going. The dressing room's that way! I'm enjoying it and as long as I am I will carry on. It's night like this you will miss when you finish but also which drive you on."