Sir Alex Ferguson: Mind Games with Patrick Vieira Will Give United the EPL Title

Andrew JordanSenior Writer IMarch 30, 2012

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22: Sir Alex ferguson speaks to the press before the Manchester United training session at the Stade Velodrome on February 22, 2011 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Patrick Vieira has been a longtime rival of Manchester United. After the French midfielder moved to Arsenal in 1998, Vieira became a thorn in the side of the Red Devils.

Vieira was a key figure on the Arsenal squad that won multiple Premier League titles and had an infamous feud with United midfielder Roy Keane.

After leaving the Gunners in 2005, Vieira played in Italy until he transferred to Manchester City in 2010. Following a year-and-a-half and an FA Cup, Vieira now works for Manchester City as a football development executive.

Following a fall in form by Manchester City in 2012 while United's form continues to improve, Vieira made the biggest mistake of anyone involved in the Premier League by firing a shot at United.

Last week, Vieira took a shot at Paul Scholes and his recent return to United, telling the Daily Telegraph“Paul Scholes is a player that I really love and admire...But for him to come back just shows a little bit of weakness in United, because they had to bring a player back who was 37."

The timing of the comment was interesting. This was hours before City's massive Premier League match with Chelsea, a match that City were only able to win at the death due to a late Samir Nasri goal.

Before last weekends fixtures, Sir Alex Ferguson responded to Vieira's comments by saying "I think he [Vieira] was programmed for that." Ferguson did not stop there, indicating that City's move was a real move of desperation.

"If you talk about desperation, they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch. The manager said he'd never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in Argentina. What is that? Could that come under the description of desperation?"

Ferguson has used the return of Tevez as part of his mind game
Ferguson has used the return of Tevez as part of his mind gameChris Brunskill/Getty Images

That player that Ferguson was discussing was Carlos Tevez, who just returned for City in the Chelsea match. Tevez has been a figure of Manchester City's rise, though Tevez is clearly not happy there and he could easily make a move this summer away from Eastlands.

Fergie's response was the beginning of his mind games during this title stretch. Even though Fergie is not necessarily initiating these games anymore, he still is a polarizing figure that few managers can match up with.

In a way, Fergie's mind games have already started to work. City needed a late goal to draw with Stoke, resulting in United taking a three-point lead in the table.

After the draw, Mancini completely avoided the media, probably to make sure that he would not say anything that could hurt City's title chances.

Ferguson used his experience to speak up and bring down Manchester City in the same interview. Fergie indicated to the media that Mancini doesn't know what "Squeaky Bum Time" means before saying "In many ways they [Manchester City] are in the driving seat."

Two days ago, Vieira put more pressure on his employers by again speaking up about United. Vieira told the BBC, "When United play at home, they may get some advantage that some other teams do not get."

Ferguson played up to Vieria's words by telling the media, "I'm trying to analyse that. I am not sure. I mean, he's more or less saying all the referees have been wrong this season and, being an official, you are not supposed to discuss referees."

We are currently watching history repeat itself. Just three years ago, Rafa Benitez fell victim to Fergie's mind games without Ferguson clearly saying anything to Benitez.

Fergie's mind games was the beginning of the end for Benitez
Fergie's mind games was the beginning of the end for BenitezRoss Kinnaird/Getty Images

Ferguson then came out and accused Benitez of being "an angry man" and talking with "venom."

These words set the precedence for the title race and did help to start the beginning of the end for Benitez's time with Liverpool.

By indirectly intimidating Manchester City, Ferguson is using his new favorite mind game to influence the Premier League race and will probably result in United's 20th league title.

United do have a relatively fixture list remaining before their April 30 matchup with their toughest fixtures will be against Aston Villa and Everton at home. If United can win their next five fixtures before their matchup with City a month from today, a win or even a draw would essentially seal the deal for United.

City's fixture list and their not-so-strong form in 2012 could easily be enough for United to clinch the title before that crucial matchup.

The pressure is squarely on Manchester City. Let's see how they respond.


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