Sir Alex Ferguson's responses to the arrivistes from across Manchester have ranged from the sneering tone that preceded last November's derby ("Where are City at the moment? Excuse me!") to his insinuation three days ago that the inflated prices being spent this summer are "stupid".
The rebuttal from Mark Hughes was calm when it came yesterday, the City manager doubtless buoyed by the likely £25m deal to bring from Arsenal Emmanuel Adebayor, though the Togolese striker is said to be hesitant about joining a club unknown to many of his countrymen. The irony of Ferguson questioning big spending in the transfer market is not lost on Hughes. When the word "hypocritical" was put to him, he replied: "It's a good word."
Clubs with years of success and Champions League revenue can afford to build squads incrementally, Hughes argued. City have to spend hard and fast to get to the same place. "We haven't had the benefit of Champions League money over a long period and we haven't had the success to generate the large amounts of money," Hughes said. "All the squads and managers have spent significant amounts to be successful. That has never changed."
Hughes accepted that elite players will cost City more than United because they are further down the football firmament. A 28-year-old such as John Terry, whom Hughes remains confident of signing from Chelsea, is a player Ferguson would not dream of paying £30m for, or wages of £280,000 a week.
Carlos Tevez is the Abu Dhabi United Group's most significant acquisition yet; the first with proven ability at the top of the Premier League. He has the personality to brave the abuse he may encounter by swapping red for blue. "I think everyone will see his focus won't be any different from when he was playing for Manchester United," Hughes said.Reuse content