LONDON: Manchester United will not ‘do a Bayern’ and secure the Premier League title if they beat outgoing champions and ‘noisy neighbours’ – Sir Alex Ferguson’s derisive description – at Old Trafford tonight.
But they will take a decisive step towards a record-extending 20th league title and wreak revenge for the embarrassing six-goal beating in front of their own fans last season.
Ferguson has warned his players against complacency. He said: “We’ve still got to win the title. We have eight games left. That’s 24 points to play for. The way we’ve approached things is the correct way and that’s to win the next game, that’s what we’ve always tried to do.
“Hopefully it takes us to winning the league and then we can talk about what the season has been like. It doesn’t matter what people say outside of the club, it’s about what we think inside the club about what we’ve achieved.
“The important thing is to win Monday’s game. It’ll be a big game for City. They’ll want to derail us for a spell. We’d feel the same. But we’re at home. Our consistency in the league is there for all to see. I expect us to perform really well.”
Wayne Rooney and Rafael da Silva are expected to be fit again and Ferguson also expects a return to scoring form from Robin Van Persie who has scored only once in his past 12 games after striking 22 goals in his first 28 appearances for United.
City will play with a sense of relief on the squad front now they know they will have Carlos Tevez leading the attack and Yaya Toure committed to the club’s midfield for four more years.
Tevez is free to play against his previous club after escaping a prison sentence in midweek for a driving offence. A court in Macclesfield, south of Manchester, sentenced the Argentinian to 250 hours of community service and fined him £1,000 for driving while disqualified.
Next slice of good news was signing Yaya Toure to a four-year extension of his contract. The deal is based around incentives so the Ivorien could earn around the same as his current £220,000-a-week.
The African Player of the Year said: “This is where I want to be. When I first arrived at City, every time I went to sleep I would dream about us winning something; now it is about us being the best team in whatever competition we take part in.
“I will never forget how I have been treated here by the fans, the club and the owners, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to finish my career as a Manchester City player.”
That is for the long term. In the short term, Toure said: “We can still finish second and win the FA Cup for a second time in three years and then we must start preparing to win more next season.
“Football is always a challenge and always a puzzle to solve and that is why we all love the game.”
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