Might we be witnessing a power shift going on in Manchester?
As everyone knows, Manchester United out-choked Manchester City to hand the Premier League title to the blue half of that city in northwestern England, which has all sorts of implications for the longstanding balance of power in which the Citizens were longtime "noisy neighbors."
Now, with the trump card of recent success taken away from him, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for new ways to psych out his erstwhile inferior, Roberto Mancini.
While I am certainly not as creative or as tactically brilliant as the 12-time Premier League champion, I do have 10 ideas that Sir Alex could use to scare Mancini into submission next season.
The fact that Manchester United almost won the League with so many of their best players missing is quite a bit scary, and their rivals would do well to remember that.
Darren Fletcher has been missing for much of the year due to an ongoing bowel condition, as has been Chris Smalling through various niggles, and, to top it all off, captain and mammoth central defender Nemanja Vidic has missed almost the whole season due to an ACL tear.
If Ferguson really wants to strike fear into the heart of his opponent, reminding him that United did what they did while playing with a piecemeal squad that often lacked a true right-back would be a pretty good option.
Yes, Manchester City have a lot of world-class players that can hurt you with a flick of their foot, but their crosstown rivals have one man who is better than them all.
The bottom line is that, for all of his temperamental shortcomings as a player, when you are able to pencil Wayne Rooney into your Starting XI, you always have a chance to win.
City and their brass like to sign and boast the sort of flashy forward who try to do what Rooney does, but the English bulldog is without equal in this league—with the exception of Robin van Persie.
In an argument over who has the better attack, you can start and end with Rooney.
Football is a tough sport. Watch Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel crunch opponents together at Euro 2012, and you'll get a perfect example of how brutal the sport can be.
Therefore, it takes a strong man to step onto that pitch—or even the touchline next to the pitch—game after game, week after week.
Few men, however, have the mental fortitude to unflinchingly stare down an angry Rio Ferdinand and come away without any mental scars.
Sir Alex Ferguson should realize that he has a very powerful secret weapon in his arsenal.
As we learned over the past two seasons, and especially this last one, few things are more intimidating than a grown man shrouded in a scarf.
It has become Roberto Mancini's trademark look, and the suave Italian paints an intimidating, brooding presence on the touchline with his neck securely sheathed in blue-and-white cloth.
I say that, if the look has worked so well for Mancini, Sir Alex should give it a try and see if he can freak his counterpart out by besting him at his own game: high fashion.
Hey, you have to admit that it's not quite as crazy as playing Dimitar Berbatov.
Earlier this summer, Mancini Sr. showed his ruthless streak by releasing his own son Andrea from the Manchester City youth ranks, and the 19-year-old is now a free agent.
Ferguson, in all his scheming brilliance, should realize that the best way to breed unrest in the Mancini household and unsettle Roberto is to encourage rebellion from within.
The Manchester United manager could do few more hilariously blatant things to mentally mess with his counterpart than educate Mancini's own son in the ways of the Red Devils—and show him why Fergie's club is so much better than its nouveau-riche neighbor.
I have to admit, Sir Alex thought of this one before I did, so I should give credit to him where it is due.
Granted, he did not actually engage in fisticuffs with Mancini, but the two got into a very aggressive verbal altercation during the Manchester Derby on April 30, which the fourth official and members of both teams' staffs had to break up.
Personally, if I had to bet who would come out on top in a real battle between the two, it would be the combative and short-tempered Scot, rather than the polished, neatly coifed Mancini.
It's not that I'm actually encouraging a fight between them; I just think that Mancini would be more affected by harsh language than Ferguson.
It is true that City have had more recent success than United, but inside the latter's offices sits a shiny reminder of who has been far more dominant for the last 20 years.
Roberto Mancini should feel proud for bringing the Sky Blues their first title in 44 seasons, but some time ago, Ferguson achieved a similar feat, and then followed that up with another 11 trophies during his tenure.
Mancini would be wise to bring sunglasses if Fergie is nice enough to take him on a tour, because those trophies, along with the many FA Cups and two Champions League titles, might give off a collective shine too bright for eyes that are not used to their glow.
There are few better ways to intimidate an opponent than to show your ambition by buying the best players in the world to bolster your squad.
Manchester City are famous for doing so with their unlimited resources, but their rivals never lag too far behind. Sir Alex Ferguson has already plugged a key hole in his team with the signing of Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.
It would not surprise me if United threw their hat into the ring for another player or two to account for the inevitable departures and keep pace with City's furious spending.
The right purchases can make any manager cower in fear.
There are few more aggravating ways to submarine a footballing rival than by stealing his transfer targets from under his nose.
Not that Manchester United of all clubs need to prove their intent to be a top team, but swiping a couple players that City want would really get under the Citizens' skin—and would undoubtedly annoy Roberto Mancini immensely.
Javi Martinez, for example, is a player on the market, who both clubs could really use, and whichever side wins that battle might just have a leg up on the other when real play starts in August.
The simplest option is also the most effective to intimidate any rival. Simply beat him, and you have bragging rights and the plethora of mental advantages that they confer.
Unfortunately for Sir Alex, he was not able to take down his rival in Premier League play last season, suffering a brutal 6-1 defeat at home and a crippling 1-0 loss that turned the table upside down in April.
But one does not get the impression that Ferguson will stand for inferiority, and he will take whatever measures are necessary to get ahead of that perpetual annoyance from across Manchester.
If Manchester United can prove again that they can best the champions of England, Roberto Mancini will be in the palm of Fergie's hand once more.
All someone of Fergie's guile and experience needs is one slip to pounce and get into his opponent's mind.