Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

SIR ALEX Ferguson last night admitted for the first time that Manchester City are his biggest rivals in English football as he prepares for Monday’s make-or-break Barclays Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium.

The Manchester United manager has always maintained during his neighbours’ recent rise to prominence that he still viewed traditional rivals Liverpool as the main threat. But as he looked ahead to the potential title decider at City’s ground, Ferguson warned his club’s fans there will be many more titanic battles against Roberto Mancini’s team. He said: “We have to get used to playing City in important games, they are not going away. The financial support they have means we will be playing them in a lot of big games.

“We will be playing them in cup finals and semi-finals. We have already done that last season and if we are going to be contesting for league titles regularly – and I think we will be – then this will become just as important as the Liverpool game. Probably at this moment it supersedes the Liverpool games in the sense that City are our direct opponents now. Manchester City are without question up against us to win titles and that is what I focus on. I only focus on the team that can actually affect our progress in terms of winning.

“This game could decide the title.”

Ferguson said it is still very emotional when playing Liverpool but it is clear beating City to the title would bring huge satisfaction. Asked if he enjoyed the challenge, Ferguson said: “I am a confirmed masochist, I joined the club about 26 years ago. I do not know if you thrive on it, I can’t even say I can look forward to it.”

United lead City by three points with three games to play, but City have a superior goal difference.

It is undertood City full back Micah Richards is close to recovering from a hamstring strain for Monday’s match. – Daily Mail