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Sir Alex Ferguson Pre-Derby Press Conference

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson held his weekly pre-match press conference today -- a day earlier than usual -- and during it, he discussed the upcoming Manchester derby. Here are his thoughts on the match and on the title-race:

"I suppose when the fixture came out at the beginning of the season, all the roads pointed to this game. It was inevitable, maybe. But we are where we are and it doesn't matter what's happened before, whose dropped points or who hasn't dropped points. It really is all down to this game. It will be a fantastic atmosphere and I hope it lives up to the billing. I don't know how many countries are going to be watching it but it will be considerable. Hopefully it's a very good game. We're smarting from throwing that game away last week. In the context of our history, we almost expected it. We tend to make it hard for ourselves. Our supporters have been subjected to that sort of drama for years and years. God knows what their nerves are like now but, hopefully, we'll make amends on Monday. It's not a cup final. It's a league game, although I think it could decide the title."

- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com

The United boss also responded to questions about Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini's continual insistence that the 'noisy neighbours' are out of the title race, despite their opportunity to go top of the table with a victory on Monday night:

"Roberto wants to take the pressure off his own players. That's possible but it doesn't matter. It won't affect our approach our attitude to the game. We know the exact situation we're in. We're in a better position than Manchester City. We could come out with two results, whereas they only have one. Although you know my attitude and this club's attitude - we'll be trying to win. I think there's enough experience. Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, even Wayne Rooney has amassed a lot of football in his short time in the game. Michael Carrick as well. There's enough experience in the camp to cope with this situation. I think the previous encounters this season are irrelevant. We've already met three times but the past is the past. It doesn't matter. It's all down to Monday. I don't know if you thrive in this sort of situation. I don't know if I'm looking forward to it, but I'm up for it. I'm prepared for it and I think the players are prepared for it. Hopefully, we'll do okay."

- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com

Fergie also compared the Liverpool and City rivalries:

"We have to get used to playing City in important games. The financial support they have means we'll meet them in a lot of big games. Therefore, if we're going to be contesting with them for the league title it will become almost as important as the Liverpool derbies. In fact, this supercedes Liverpool at the moment because they're our direct opponents. We have to focus on the team who can affect our progress in terms of winning the league. I don't know if you thrive in this sort of situation. I don't know if I'm looking forward to it, but I'm up for it. I'm prepared for it and I think the players are prepared for it."

- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com

This is all pretty standard stuff from Fergie and essentially the answers we'd all expect. He also revealed that there are no new or unexpected injuries. Basically, that means Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, and Anders Lindegaard are still out. Everyone else is expected to be available at the Etihad.