Sir Alex Ferguson has raised the stakes ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby by declaring a win for United would represent one of his side’s ‘best ever results’.
United are three points clear of their neighbours at the top of the Premier League table but, unlike the reigning champions, Ferguson’s men have already lost three times and have conceded 21 goals in 15 matches.
Ferguson has repeatedly voiced his concern over United’s shaky defence and he is worried that City could punish his team if they produce a performance like they did against Reading last weekend.
“It’s going to be a massive game and if we defend like we did at Reading we’ll be in trouble,” the boss told MUTV.
“If we win [on Sunday] it will be one of our best ever results because they’re a really good, powerful team with massive players. It won’t be easy.”
Writing in his United Review column ahead of the Cluj match, Ferguson added: “It’s a big, big game for what, at least on paper, is a match between the two best teams in the country.
“As the table tells us, there is not much between us, though I recognise that City hold the crown as reigning champions. We need to come out unscathed and, with so much at stake, I wonder if there will be a little bit of caution from both clubs.
“Roberto Mancini and I will both have to think deeply about our selections and tactics and there may well be an element of playing safe.
“But don’t count on it because it’s a derby match when anything can happen and often does. The passion of the fans can easily spill over and affect the players so that tactics go out of the window as emotion takes over and each side, or both, slide into gung-ho mood.
“An early goal can dictate the shape of the same so, as I say, we could be in for a masterclass of attacking from both teams. In which case, hold onto your hats – and enjoy.”