London – Opposing managers Roberto Mancini and Alex Ferguson have started sparring well before Sunday's Manchester derby after an exchange of barbs about penalties.
In Friday's pre-match press conference, Manchester United manager Ferguson suggested there would have been “an inquiry in the House of Commons” if his club had been awarded as many spot-kicks as Manchester City in recent years.
However, while City have won 21 penalties since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, United have been awarded exactly the same amount.
And when Mancini was informed of Ferguson's comments, he retorted with a jibe about United winger Ashley Young, who was criticised for a succession of penalty-winning dives in April last season.
“I remember very well last year, when Young, swimming in the...” said the Italian, breaking off his sentence to mimic the pose of a diver on the top board.
“I think (City have won penalties) four or five times in the last 10 games, and then (Ferguson) didn't say anything, but this can happen.”
Asked if he believed Ferguson was trying to stir things up ahead of Sunday's game at the Etihad Stadium, Mancini replied: “Probably. Fergie is clever for this.
He added, in an ironic tone: “I think in the last 15 years there have been some penalties for them. Not a lot, but two or three in the last 15 years.”
United currently enjoy a three-point advantage over defending champions City at the top of the Premier League table. – Sapa-AFP