Ferguson fired up by derby clash
No matter what pressure he finds himself under at Eastlands on Wednesday night, there is nowhere Sir Alex Ferguson would prefer to be.
At an age when most men would be happily taking their seats in front of the fire, with nothing more powerful that a cup of coffee to maximise their enjoyment of the latest Manchester derby, Ferguson will be right in the line of fire. That he must forge a side together from a group of players ravaged by illness and injury only makes the job harder.
"Derby games are fantastic," Ferguson said. "What would you rather be doing, managing a game between City and United or Carlisle against Crewe? They are the ends of the spectrum. Derby games can divide husband and wife. You are involved in a game of emotions."
Although usually high-octane affairs, in the past couple of years that the battles between Manchester's feuding pair have really captured the imagination.
Huge amounts of money poured in by City owner Sheikh Mansour has made an obvious difference, along with the Blues' award-winning marketing campaign, led by that infamous 'Welcome to Manchester' poster marking the arrival of Carlos Tevez from Old Trafford.
Even 16 months after the event, Ferguson is still irked by its impact, which marked the arrival of his new 'noisy neighbours'.
"I don't know how it was created, probably some advertising gimmick at City. But I don't think they can be proud of it," he said. "I said it was stupid at the time. They probably think that now. I don't see how they thought it would get more points off us when it came to playing on a football pitch.
"Maybe it was worthwhile for some of the supporters but I think a lot of them were embarrassed. They would rather see that trophy being paraded through the city before they start screaming from the rooftops."
And amid the heightened intensity of Wednesday''s showdown, Ferguson insists he will not lose sight of the real barrier to United's hopes of glory this term. It is stationed at Stamford Bridge.
"If you don't recognise who won the league last season then you are very foolish," he said. "We have to chase Chelsea. That is our challenge. It is not easy winning our league and they are a very formidable and experienced side."