Manchester City vs. Manchester United: Ferguson, Mancini Play Mind Games

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterApril 29, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on as Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini gestures during the Carling Cup Semi Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on January 19, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Monday's Manchester Derby could decide the English Premier League title. How that happens is a matter of who you ask.

See, Manchester United are favorites for the title, and if they win the Manchester Derby on Monday, they definitely won't be stopped.

No, wait.

Manchester City are favorites for the title, and if they win the Manchester Derby on Monday, they definitely won't be stopped.

Go ahead. Ask their managers.

Er, that is, the opposite managers.

Here's Manchester City's Roberto Mancini, quoted by the Daily Telegraph:

“My opinion is always the same—I think (United) have more chance than us. We’re playing Newcastle. This is very, very difficult. Then we’re playing against QPR, and QPR will probably need to win their game. I think (even) if we win this game, they are favourites.”

Fair enough. After Monday's match, City head to Newcastle next Sunday. The Magpies are fighting for fourth place, and that's going to be a tough match, even if they did just lose 4-0 to Wigan.

So, Sir Alex Ferguson knows United will be favored to retain the title. Right?

Well, almost.

"If City win the derby I don't see them losing the title," Ferguson said. "Even though they have still got to go to Newcastle, I think they'd have a great chance if they beat us. Anything else would leave us strong favourites. There's no doubt about that, with two games to go."

Fergie is right. There is no doubt—that these guys are playing mind games.

A quarter of a century into the Ferguson era, we're used to it from the Manchester United manager. This, time, though, it's his team that's in danger of blowing a big lead.

On April 10, United led City by eight points with six matches left in the season. On Monday, the teams will kick off with a three-point margin between them, and a City win would take them to the top of the table on goal differential with two matches left.

City won the first league matchup this season, famously beating United 6-1 at Old Trafford.

But United knocked City out of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win at the Etihad.

This time, though, City will have Carlos Tevez.

So, readers, which manager is right? Who's favored to win the title?

And is it possible Fergie's mind games aren't working this time?