Mancini takes on Fergie in bat­tle of Manch­ester

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

ROBERTO MANCINI has fired the first shot in his bat­tle with Sir Alex Fer­gu­son by promis­ing to rip down the fa­mous ban­ner at Old Traf­ford mock­ing Manch­ester City’s lack of suc­cess.

Mancini’s bold state­ment is a clear sig­nal of in­tent from the new City boss that he is de­ter­mined to take ad­van­tage of Manch­ester United’s prob­lems this sea­son and tackle Fer­gu­son head-on.

Asked about the ban­ner – a large num­ber in black and white draped across the Stret­ford End which is up­dated ev­ery sea­son to taunt City over the last time they won a ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion nearly 34 years ago – Mancini vowed to de­liver a tro­phy and knock United out of the Car­ling Cup. The last time City won a tro­phy was in the 1976 League Cup.

The first leg of the semi­fi­nal, sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, was post­poned to Jan­uary 19 due to heavy snow­falls.

“When we go to Old Traf­ford we will take that ban­ner down,” said Mancini. “This is the last year be­cause we will win. I am well aware how long it is since City last won a tro­phy and this sea­son we have a great op­por­tu­nity to put that right.”

Trail­ing Chelsea in the ti­tle race af­ter five Premier League de­feats so far this sea­son, United suf­fered an­other blow when they crashed out of the FA Cup to Leeds.

Mancini, mean­while, has overseen three straight wins – and three clean sheets – since tak­ing over from Mark Hughes last month.

The for­mer In­ter Mi­lan boss has al­ready claimed City are ca­pa­ble of not only se­cur­ing a top-four place this sea­son but also snatch­ing United’s Premier League crown as well.

“Big clubs have to think of the big pic­ture, winning tro­phies and be­ing in­volved in the big com­pe­ti­tions. Der­bies are just one or two games a sea­son. We must think of tro­phies. It’s im­por­tant we have that men­tal­ity,” he said.

“For me, it’s im­por­tant we get through Jan­uary. If we do very well this month then I think the fu­ture is very good for us be­cause we’ve got play­ers com­ing back from in­jury,” Mancini said. “It’s pos­si­ble we could be in the top four if we have a good month.’

Mancini will have to wait for his chance to face Fer­gu­son af­ter the first leg at East­lands was post­poned, but his com­ments about the ban­ner are rem­i­nis­cent of the row that erupted last sum­mer when City cel­e­brated sign­ing Car­los Tevez by putting up a city-cen­tre bill­board of the for mer United striker with the words “Wel­come to Manch­ester”.

It brought an an­gry re­sponse from Fer­gu­son who branded City a “small club with a small men­tal­ity”.

The ri­valry was fu­elled by Fergu- son’s claims that Tevez was not worth his £25m trans­fer fee, and a fiercely con­tro­ver­sial derby at Old Traf­ford in Septem­ber that United won with an in­jury-time goal by Michael Owen.

Mancini, how­ever, be­lieves Tevez was worth ev­ery penny and ad­mit­ted United are bound to miss the Ar­gentina striker and his for­mer team­mate Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

“For me, Car­los is one of the top play­ers in the world,” he added. Fer­gu­son had wel­comed Mancini’s ap­point­ment – City’s 14th new man­ager since the Scot took over at United – by say­ing he looked for­ward to still be­ing in charge when that num­ber reached 20.

Like Hughes be­fore him, Mancini was care­ful not to be­come em­broiled in a pub­lic war of words with Fer­gu­son, in­sist­ing he was sure his coun­ter­part was only jok­ing.

“I hope that I stay here in this seat for many times. But it’s nor­mal. It’s meant as a joke what he said, but now I hope I stay here for a long time,” Mancini said.

“Has Sir Alex con­tacted me since I was ap­pointed? No but he doesn’t have my num­ber.”

Mancini smiled when it was pointed out that he has a winning record against Fer­gu­son af­ter beat­ing United as a player and a man­ager with Lazio in the 1999 Su­per Cup and In­ter in a friendly at Old Traf­ford in the sum­mer of 2007.

“I have great re­spect for him. Sir Alex has won many tro­phies and is the most im­por­tant man­ager in the world,” he added. “But we want to beat him, this is nor­mal.” – Daily Mail

UNITED: Fer­gu­son

CITY: Mancini

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