The Red Devils face a daunting trip to City’s Etihad Stadium on Monday night holding a slender three-point lead over their derby rivals in the Premier League title race.
The two Manchester clubs have already met twice this season, with Roberto Mancini’s side winning 6-1 in the reverse league fixture, while United edged to a 3-2 win over City in the FA Cup third round.
Ferguson, who has seen Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United all challenge United’s top-flight dominance during his tenure at Old Trafford, fully expects City to be a force to be reckoned with for many seasons to come.
“We have to get used to playing City in important games,” Ferguson said.
“They’re not going away. The financial support they have means we’ll meet them in a lot of big games. Cup finals, semi-finals – we’ve already done that. They’re there.
“Therefore, if we’re going to be contesting with them for the league titles regularly – and I think we will be – it will become almost as important as the Liverpool derbies.
“Maybe not in terms of the emotions – the Liverpool-United games are emotional. But certainly, in terms of importance, this supersedes Liverpool at the moment because City are our direct opponents.
“Manchester City are up against us to win titles. We have to focus on the team who can affect our progress in terms of winning the league.”
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