skip to content

Big four watching City - Fergie

08 Aug 2009 11:37:28

Big four watching City - Fergie

SIR ALEX Ferguson has watched with as much interest as anyone else as City revolutionised this summer's transfer market. The eyes of the world have been glued on Eastlands - and the United manager has been no different. Indeed Fergie admits that each of the traditional big four in England have been left looking over their shoulders as Mark Hughes has set on his audacious spending spree. Still he has so far remained sceptical about City's credentials to be genuine title contenders - even fuelled by the Abu Dhabi billions. But he need only look at tomorrow's Community Shield opponents to see how sheer financial muscle can achieve the loftiest of ambitions. Roman Abramovich's roubles completely re-shaped the Premier League landscape when he parked up at Stamford Bridge in 2003. Challenge Chelsea went from glamour club to a trophy-winning machine that threatened to dominate English for as long as their billionaire owner remained interested. Fergie ensured that wasn't the case, constructing his third great side at United that this season could become the first English team to win four successive titles. But he readily admits it was the challenge laid down by Chelsea that forced him to "raise the bar." "When they won the two titles starting the season as quickly as they did, we had to think about our pre-season," he said. "We came back earlier after Chelsea won their two titles and we've kept a good consistency since then. "They made us all think there's no question about that." As yet, City's spending has not prompted a knee-jerk reaction from any of the top four that they hope to gatecrash this season. If anything, with United, Liverpool and Arsenal all losing key players this summer, it could be argued that they have stepped back while City have strode forward. "Ourselves, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are looking at City with great interest, as to whether this can work or not with the money they've spent," said Fergie. "There is a lot of interest from all of us in the sense that none of us have gone into the market in a big way. "We've sold players. Liverpool sold Xabi Alonso, we sold Cristiano Ronaldo, Arsenal sold Emanuel Adebayor and it's been really quiet for the big four. Interesting "It's down to City's spending that kept everyone busy. It will be interesting to see how that pans out." Fergie's comments were not made with the same sort of irritation as has accompanied some other statements he offered about City this summer. He has not held back with his opinions about the blue half of Manchester, accusing them of arrogance and dismissing them as a "small club with a small mentality." His comments ahead of the Community Shield showdown with Chelsea were nothing like as acerbic, though he again questioned whether - even with the arrivals Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz and Adebayor - City could find a way into a Champions League position. "It's difficult to break into the top four with the consistency and quality those top four have got," he said. "Don't forget over the last four years those four teams have competed for semi-finals and finals of the European Cup. It's a great level of performance. Everyone recognises in Europe that those four are very strong teams." Fergie this week identified Chelsea as United's main title rivals, despite Liverpool finishing just four points adrift in second place last season. And he sought to explain his reasoning by saying: "Liverpool got 86 points, which is exceptional for a team finishing in second place. We won in 1993 with 79 points. "That's a grand total to be second whether they can amass that amount of points again I don't know." He also doesn't know if United can make it four in a row - but even without Ronaldo and Tevez, he believes his side will be at an advantage this season. "We'd like to do it," he said. "It would be a great achievement. We know how difficult the league is. We accepted a good challenge last year going to Japan for the Club World Cup. We don't have that problem this year. "We don't have to play catch up. We start the same time as anyone else. It's a great challenge the Premier League is such a hard league." What do you think? Send us your comments


Manchester_EveningNews

Sponsored links