Fergie dismisses Blues threat
SIR Alex Ferguson has dismissed Manchester City as a major threat to Manchester United's Premier League title. Ferguson has watched agog like the rest of a startled football world this summer as City have splashed out millions in the pursuit of glory. Emmanuel Adebayor is the latest £25million addition to a cast list that also includes Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz and former United favourite Carlos Tevez, with the prospect of more to come. As someone who has become accustomed to City's famous inconsistencies during his 23 years at the Old Trafford helm, it must feel strange to know a challenge to United's dominance may come from much nearer home than usual this term. Yet, relaxed and healthy at the start of another punishing season, Ferguson let his thoughts wander from United's current base in Kuala Lumpur to the city they share with a team now in a very big hurry. ?Given all that has happened in the transfer market this summer, it is a different type of challenge we are facing,? he reflected. ?We are being challenged for the back pages. ?Manchester City are getting all the back page stories and they will hold that position for the rest of the season because there is a lot of interest in what they have done and a lot of speculation about whether it is going to work. ?But I cannot look at Manchester City as our main competitors. Liverpool and Chelsea are our main competitors. There is no doubt about that.? And that means no third championship-winning campaign for Carlos Tevez, who has irritated Ferguson with the way he has reacted to his own departure from Old Trafford, bringing the obvious assumption that he really was not worth the hassle of the extra £25million it would have cost to make his ?lease? period permanent. ?It won't be easy for them to win anything, even with all the players they have bought,? said Ferguson, moving onto the whole City project. ?They have bought a lot of high profile players but they have 10 strikers. That is a hell of a lot. ?I have not spoken to all the managers but the one or two I have are saying ?Who are they going to leave out?? ?How do you tell players they are not even going to be travelling to London? How does he pick a team? We are all interested.? It was bad enough for Ferguson to inform senior stars like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo they would not be going to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final with Everton. At least he could offer the Champions League as an alternative. Hughes can't, which just makes handling the expanding collection of talent gathered at Eastlands all the more problematic. Problematic for United too as, together with Real Madrid, City have managed to bloat the transfer market to such an extent £50million price-tags are being placed on players who have no background. No wonder he has withdrawn from action. ?Real Madrid are different to Manchester City,? said Ferguson. ?They have an unusual culture of not really bothering about money because they can use their name to write off debt. No Spanish bank will ever close them down. ?Manchester City's culture is about cash. It is about having money and using it.? United have benefited of course. But Ferguson has opted to use only a fraction of the incredible £80million pot Madrid presented him with for Cristiano Ronaldo, bringing in Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan to a squad expected to challenge for an unprecedented fourth consecutive title; challenging with, he thinks, Chelsea, Liverpool and, maybe, Arsenal. ?I see Chelsea and Liverpool as the main threats because they have the experience and they are consistent,? he said. ?They are hard to beat. That won't change. But I can't make up my mind about who is the better team. There is not much between them. ?Arsenal have the biggest job to do because they have sold Adebayor and don't seem to have the money the rest have got. ?How Arsene develops his team will be his biggest test. ?The one thing we know about Arsenal is that they will play some of the best football you will see and they will create chances. They could easily re-establish themselves and challenge for the league again.? And with that, Ferguson is done, ready to embark on another rollercoaster year, knowing one more title will bring immortality for a team aiming to achieve something not done in the previous 130 years. ?We have won the title for the last three years and in the history of the English game no-one has ever won four,? he said. ?That tells you what a competitive league it is. ?Lyon won their league seven times in a row. Dynamo Kiev won nine, as have Celtic and Rangers. Dinamo Berlin 11 in the old East Germany. You will never get that in the English game. ?I am in charge of a football club that has the right philosophy. I have had fantastic moments here. I have 76,000 watching my team in every home game. I shouldn't really concern myself about another team in the same city, no matter what they do.?
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