Ferguson hoping City stumble on last day
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is hoping “something stupid” happens to crosstown rivals Manchester City on the last day of the race for the English Premier League title.
City and United are level on points going into the final round on Sunday, though City’s superior goal difference means a home win against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers will almost certainly clinch the title for the first time in 44 years.
“We can only do our best and try to win the game, and hope something stupid happens to Manchester City,” Ferguson said ahead of his team’s trip to mid-table Sunderland.
City manager Roberto Mancini said the chance to win the title against QPR made the match harder than playing United.
City beat United in the Manchester derby 11 days ago to draw level on points and maintained top spot with a hard-fought win at Champions League-chasing Newcastle last weekend to close on a first title since 1968.
“We shall play against a team that plays against relegation,” Mancini said.
“It will be hard, it will be difficult – more than Newcastle, more than United.”
City secured 17 wins out of 18 home league matches, while QPR have lost 13 matches on the road this season.
After holding an eight-point lead at the beginning of April, United must hope for an unlikely slip-up to snatch a 20th league title.
Mancini struck a guarded attitude as he spoke at City’s Carrington training ground on Friday and insisted there was still work to do to secure the title.
“We need to play another difficult game. They (QPR) are a good team that doesn’t deserve to stay at the bottom. I think Sunday will be a tough game.”
The match at Etihad Stadium has an interesting subplot. QPR manager Mark Hughes is a cherished former United striker who was sacked as City manager to make way for Mancini’s arrival.
Ferguson has joked that he wished Hughes could play for QPR, but Mancini insisted personalities would not come into the equation.
“It’s not Mancini against Hughes or Hughes against Mancini, it’s Manchester City against QPR,” the City manager said. “One team plays for the title, one team plays for relegation.”
Despite publicly conceding the title to United after falling eight points behind with defeat at Arsenal at the beginning of April, Mancini said his men always believed they had a chance.
“You need to play 38 games,” he said.
“We were on top for 28, afterward we had some problems with some important players injured. We don’t have the experience that United have, but we believe always.”
United will travel to Sunderland without defender Chris Smalling, whose groin injury will also rule him out of England’s Euro 2012 squad.© AP 2013
Passionate about your football? Then sign up to The Roar's brand new daily football email, delivering Roaring articles directly to you day-in, day-out. You'll love it!
Click here to join now!
Looking to join The Roar team? We're searching for an experienced Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. Yes, this does mean you get to work with the site all day long! If you're a digital media sales star, we want to hear from you. Apply now.