Ferguson riled by Manchester City

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Football

Sir Alex Ferguson is no stranger to confrontation with rival clubs and their managers. His famous ‘mind games’ have got the better of some of the finest Premiership coaches.

In 1996, Kevin Keegan famously fell victim to Fergie’s mind games as he launched a highly emotive attack at the Manchester United boss, using the now famous phrase “I’d love it if with we beat them! Love it!”

Keegan’s outburst had a negative impact on his side, as Newcastle’s title challenge veered off course as Manchester United overtook Keegan’s side and secured the title with a 3-0 victory against Middlesborough on the final day of the season.

Rafa Benitez became victim to the provocative words of Ferguson when a war of words ensued between the two for the majority of the second half of last season. Ferguson claimed Liverpool didn’t have the bottle to stay on top and win the Premier League title.

The tension between the two escalated after Benitez dispatched an astonishing attack, lambasting Ferguson’s antics. He read his premeditated barrage of words from a neatly folded piece of paper.

Liverpool went on to surrender top spot in the league, allowing Manchester United to claim a record equalling 18th title. Another victory for the United boss, with Benitez looking distinctly sheepish after his outburst.

It seems Ferguson has now decided to unsettle a foe much closer to home. For over 40 years, the blue half of Manchester has lived under the shadow cast by the Red Devils.

This barren period could soon be set to come to an end with the purchasing power of City’s new owners. The money mite of the owners hailing from Abu Dhabi appears to have ruffled a few feathers at Old Trafford.

It could be argued that when Ferguson decides to launch a new round of mind games, it’s consistently against opponents that he fears: Kevin Keegan, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez. The timing is strategic: always when his opposition are basking in a better position than his United team in the league table.

There is a sense of irony when Ferguson described Manchester City has a “small club” with a “small mentality”. Ferguson has never wasted his time picking fights with clubs that he deems to be no threat. Real Madrid and Liverpool, two of the biggest clubs in world football.

So behind his goading of City, there is a compliment. Ferguson is worried about his City neighbours. The publicity stunt, a banner with former Manchester United favourite Carlos Tevez donned in the blue of city, has irked the United hierarchy.

Ferguson has taken the bait; he is clearly riled by the audacity of his Eastland’s rivals. Hughes has tried to quell the flames insisting there is a friendly banter being exchanged between the two clubs.

The Manchester United manager doesn’t do friendly. If you cross Fergie he will strike back with an iron fisted ferocity. When he clashed with Real Madrid bosses, he had no qualms in stating that he wouldn’t sell them a “virus”.

Hughes and company have been drawn into the Ferguson firing line and once you’re in combat, there is rarely an opportunity to declare a truce.

The fierce rivalry between Ferguson and Wenger has transformed itself into a friendship with the pair seemingly putting behind their differences in recent years. This the sole showing of any remorseful nature in Ferguson.

Manchester City fans will be enjoying the sight of an uncomfortable Sir Alex. Despite what Ferguson says he must perceive City to be a threat to his team’s title ambitions.

At the very least if not in the short term provided the owners continue to pump money into investing in players they will be a danger in the long term.

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