Premier League

Ferguson promises different outcome

Sir Alex Ferguson watches his United side destroyed by City in October 2011.
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Sir Alex Ferguson has never watched a repeat of Manchester United's mauling by City last season, declaring: "I am not into self-flagellation."

Manchester City head to Old Trafford tonight for the first time since that astonishing triumph, which ended up providing the goal difference advantage that won them the Barclays Premier League title.

It also created a stain on Ferguson's time with United that will never be completely erased as City rampaged through three times in stoppage time to condemn their hosts to a heaviest home defeat since 1955.

At the time, Ferguson called it his "worst ever day". He still regards his side's gung-ho tactics as akin to committing "suicide". But he has never watched it since. And the chances are he never well.

"No. Why would I?" he said.

"I am not into self-flagellation. It happened. We threw it away. We committed suicide.

"We were the better team until they scored right on half-time. Then we had a man sent off just after half-time and we still kept chasing the game.

"That was us playing with the history books instead of our brains. It will be different this time."

There is an ominous tone to Ferguson's voice that suggests United's present 15-point lead will not lead to a safety-first attitude in order to close off City's only hope of injecting any degree of interest in a run-in most have written off already.

And the focus will have been made even sharper by that unhappy experience on the final day, when City rescued themselves from calamity against QPR after United had finished their match against Sunderland, triggering jubilation amongst the Black Cats support.

Ferguson cannot remember walking down the team bus to address his younger players as they left the Stadium of Light imploring them not to forget their distress. But he does liken the experience to the one suffered by their predecessors at Anfield over a decade earlier.

"Any United player being involved in that game last year would have to feel it," said Ferguson.

"We have had experience like that before against Liverpool when Giggs, Scholes and Beckham were signing autographs for their fans, who immediately tore them up in front of them.

"Those things stick in your mind. The way we lost it definitely resonates with a lot of people in the club.

"The only way you can get over that kind of thing is to be better.

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"There was a definite purpose about them in terms of getting the title back, particularly to take it back off City."

Much has been made of the Blues' inability to match last season's performances on a consistent basis.

Yet Ferguson doubts they could have matched United's record of 25 victories from their first 30 games even if they had.

"We have improved," said the United boss.

"Even if their points total had been as good as it was at this point last season, it wouldn't have matched ours. You have to give us credit for that.

"Twenty-five wins out of 30 is a quite strong conviction of the players' performance."

Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes will provide some added impetus for United's season as he prepares to return to full training on Monday after recovering from his knee injury.

Yet, unlike last season, when he was ushered out of retirement midway through the campaign, Scholes has not been missed, thanks mainly to the outstanding contribution of Michael Carrick.So often overshadowed in a stellar United squad, Carrick has flourished this term, even if it is unlikely to be recognised in the major player of the year awards.

"I don't pay too much attention to these awards," said Ferguson.

"If he is recognised by us and recognised by the fans - you hear them now singing about Michael all the time - that satisfies him much more than an award.

"It has taken a while, but then the fans had Scholesy to drool over for years.

"Michael has taken up the baton and done well."

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