Fergie begins the horseplay

It’s that time of year again, The Grand National is around the corner and Fergie has begun testing his opposite number to see if he has the nerve to jump the final fences. City have still to negotiate some big fences in the form of Chelsea at home,  a rejuvenated Arsenal away and of course United at home, whereas United have only the City game to trouble them as they turn for home.

Yes, we’re coming to the elbow in the run in at Aintree.  Alex Ferguson, the Red Rum of the Premier League, knows the course so well, who could bet against him reaching the winning post as the victor ? His adversary, Roberto Mancini’s City are the pretenders to the throne, and though they have proved unflappable thus far, they are only a Devon Loch slip away from handing the reins over to Fergie’s experienced stable .

Last weekend Fergie flashed his whip in front of Mancini by suggesting United have the experience to stay with City to the final fence, waiting for the slightest mistake to be made by their much more inexperienced rivals, it could well have been missed by the masses but have no doubt, the apprentice that is Mancini will have noted the comments. Despite the fact Fergie’s United are giving away pounds to Mancini’s City, there is no accounting for course and distance, and the grand old stager is ready to produce one last hurrah for the supporters who have bought into his vision down the years. 

The turn of March always sees Fergie begin his psychological warfare, particularly if he is within a length of his rival. This year adds even more intrigue as it is with their nearest and not so dearest neighbours. Mancini however comes across as completely unfazed by anything much, but beware the loose horse will be Fergie’s warning and it is one Mancini should take heed of.

Mancini has built a team of thoroughbreds with the Mansour millions in a race containing teams of Geldings. Fergie can only claim a mixture of the two breeds in his stable and while his thoroughbreds of yesteryear, Scholes and Giggs, have only a few races left in them they will once again be pivotal in providing Fergie with the nous to get over the final fence and challenging for the title.

And so the scene is set for one of the most interesting title races ever run, with two bitter rivals vying for supremacy. There can only be one winner and whether that is by lengths or by a short head only time will tell. The first clod of turf has been dug up courtesy of Fergies hoof and landed splat on Mancini’s silks, how he responds to that will determine whether he collects the main prize come May 13.

John Collins

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