Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has hit back at Sir Alex Ferguson's criticism of his club, claiming the Manchester United manager is "worried" by the revolution under way at Eastlands.
Local tensions have been heightened ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby at Old Trafford with Ferguson accusing City of "cockiness" and "arrogance" over the Carlos Tevez "Welcome to Manchester" poster that so amused City supporters earlier this season.
Responding to the Scot's jibes, former Arsenal centre-back Toure said: "I think he is just very worried about what's happening here."
He added: "He knows that the players we have brought here are not just top quality, but really professional and want to put this team on the top of the table. That is the mentality here.
"It's like if you are the best at school and then another boy arrives - a new boy who is really good at every subject. You don't like it, do you?"
City's 4-2 win over Arsenal in a fiery encounter at Eastlands last weekend was perhaps the first sign that the so-called 'Big Four' had become the 'Big Five', and Toure believes victory in Sunday's derby will cement his team's place among the league's elite.
He said: "Beating Arsenal was important for us but beating United at Old Trafford would really make people sit up and take notice. And that is what we want to do: to show that we mean business and that we really can be up there at the end of the season."
Toure's team-mate Stephen Ireland has also waded into the war of words raging between the cross-city rivals.
"I definitely think there's fear in their camp," Ireland told the Daily Mirror. "They know if we beat them on Sunday we could then go on an unbeaten run of 15 to 20 games and they'd be playing catch-up, which has never really happened.
"United have never had to play catch-up on City, but now the tables could finally be turning."