Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has put the pressure on rivals Manchester City to beat Borussia Dortmund in their final Champion’s League group game, despite having already exited the competition.
Ferguson asserted that losing is ‘unhealthy’ for a big club and that another defeat in Europe for City could effect their chances of retain the Premier League title.
Co-incidentally City face United in the first Manchester derby of the campaign next Sunday and it seems the mind-games have already begun.
“City need to beat Dortmund. I don’t think losing for a big club is healthy,” claimed the United boss.
His side have already qualified for the knockout rounds of the competition and go into their midweek game against CFR Cluj-Napoca top of Group H – 5 points clear with no one in sight.
United also sit, albeit much less comfortably, top of the Premier League table – just 3 points clear of City with all to play for next weekend.
Ferguson failed to see the benefit of exiting the Champion’s League – some have suggested the added preparation time and improved squad fitness could in fact help City domestically.
“On one hand you can be fresh for the second half of the season and play a fresh team every week, but how do you keep them all happy if they’re out of the League Cup and they go out of the European Cup?”
“I don’t know if City would have an advantage. I’m not sure it would suit them. You can spend more time on the training ground, no question, but you have to deal with the fact you’re not in European football – and every manager wants to do well in Europe. I do anyway.”
Whilst the timeliness of his statements may point more to mind-games than give any insight into his actual beliefs, Ferguson might just have a point.
How will City keep all their expensive players happy when they can’t all play all the time anyway, even across four competitions?
And in terms of momentum, you could point to Chelsea’s winning of the FA Cup and the Champion’s League final that followed – perhaps winning games and, synonymously, winning trophies breads belief, desire, and momentum – in and around the club, for the manager, the players, and the fans.
Is it unhealthy for a big club to lose? Probably not – I have to disagree with Ferguson. Sometimes when big clubs lose it tests the character of those associated with the club and they come back fighting. I’m sure last season’s defeats to City will provide just a very healthy amount of desire for United, come Sunday.