Ferguson talks City, league challengers
Sir Alex Ferguson has stoked the derby fires ahead of next month's Community Shield clash by once again branding Manchester City the "noisy neighbours".
Ferguson first used the disparaging comment in September 2009 following Michael Owen's dramatic injury-time winner at Old Trafford. Since then, though, City have ended their 35-year trophy drought, beating Manchester United in the semi-final before overcoming Stoke City in the FA Cup final.
They have also secured a place alongside the Red Devils in this season's UEFA Champions League group phase. Ferguson accepts their ascent makes them more formidable opposition, which is why he wants the volume turned down at Wembley on 7 August.
"It is addressing our noisy neighbours again," said Ferguson of the City encounter, admitting he will need to make changes to his side's preparations, presumably starting with tomorrow night's encounter with the MLS All-Stars.
"Last year I mucked up by giving the players too many half games in pre-season and not enough 90 minutes. I will address that this year because when we played Fulham and Everton we were well short fitness-wise."
United drew both those games which, at the time, appeared to be very costly. As it was, their rivals all fell away, with Chelsea unable to claw back the deficit once they managed to find form after an atrocious couple of months.
Transfer dealings done
Ferguson knows where the challenges are coming from this season. He just believes the answer lies within. "Anyone can win the league; ourselves, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea," he said. "But when I look at it, our biggest challenge is ourselves."
Ferguson's statements about further reinforcements certainly indicate a need to extract more from the dressing room, given the star name to replace Paul Scholes in central midfield does not look as though it is going to arrive.
"We lost five players in their 30s this summer," he reflected. "That helped finance the three younger players - Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea - I have brought to the club. At this moment, I can't see another addition. The type of player we might have been looking for is not available. I am happy with the players I have got at this moment in time."