City 'changed football': Ferguson

SIR Alex Ferguson has not been surprised by Manchester City's start to the season. After seven Premier League games, only goal difference separates the two Manchester teams at the top of the table, and the United manager insisted that a potential title challenge from across the city was what he was expecting.

"I've said all along that would happen," Ferguson told Inside United magazine. "They are a good team and they were always going to be there or thereabouts."

City have spent heavily in recent years - Ferguson said that they have "changed football" - and the United manager acclaimed the quality of two of their imports. "Sergio Aguero was bound to do well, coming into the Premier League," Ferguson said, "because he is such a goal threat around the penalty box. David Silva is also a very good player."

With United and City having each taken 19 points from seven league games so far, three more than third-placed Chelsea, Ferguson knows that the two derby matches could be decisive. The first, at Old Trafford, is on 23 October. "We just have to make sure we are ready for City when we meet them," he said.

Now that the local rivalry is between two title rivals, Ferguson believes the fixture has been enhanced. "All derbies are big now, that is the nature of the landscape. The impetus City now have - they have a huge squad of players and the financial power to attract some of the best footballers in the world - actually changes the focus of the derby these days."

Before United host City, they travel to another of their bitterest rivals, Liverpool, on 15 October. "We have been poor there of late," conceded Ferguson. "On a couple of occasions we have been out-fought by them, which is disappointing."

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