Manchester United manager Sir Alex
Ferguson and his Manchester City counterpart Roberto Mancini
will rally their troops one last time this weekend when the
nine-month battle for the Premier League title will end in
victory for one club or the other.
The final scenes in what is widely regarded as the best
season since the Premier League replaced the old Football
League's First Division 20 years ago as the top flight, will be
played out at the Etihad Stadium where City take on Queens Park
Rangers and at the Stadium of Light were Sunderland host United.
The mathematics are simple enough. Both have 86 points but
City's goal difference is eight better than United's.
If City win they will be champions for the first time since
1968. All that could stop them is if United win by at least nine
goals, or possibly more at Sunderland.
If City lose or draw and United win, then United will retain
the title they won last year and be crowned champions for the
With the time for the final action almost upon them,
Ferguson and Mancini faced the press for their last pre-match
conferences of the season on Friday.
With City in pole position to claim the title, Ferguson
compared the situation to the one he faced when Jose Mourinho
arrived at Chelsea in 2004.
"We had to contend with Jose's management style, which was
very effective," Ferguson told reporters. "He did a fantastic
"You knew you were competing against a very clever manager.
You weren't just facing the money, you were facing a very united
"They were hard to beat. City - quality-wise - are very
similar to Chelsea at that time.
"Some of their players have had outstanding seasons. When
you win the league you need five or six players who are
consistently good all the time.
"City have had that this year and the manager, for most of
the part, has done well."
Mancini has had to deal with numerous difficulties this
season including Carlos Tevez's lengthy absence from the club
and Mario Balotelli's erratic behaviour.
Mancini said Sunday's game was not a personal battle between
him and his opposite number Mark Hughes, once a United player
and the man sacked as City manager to make way for Mancini in
QPR need a point to avoid relegation, a point that could
also deny City the title and give Hughes some revenge for his
"For me, they [QPR] are a good team, they don't deserve to
stay at the bottom," said Mancini.
"They want to do everything to stay in the Premier League
and for this reason I think it will be a tough game.
"I don't know him very well but it is not Mancini against
Hughes or Hughes against Mancini. It is City against QPR.
"One team plays for the title, the other plays against
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