Man Utd boss Ferguson: We must accept Man City are now challenger

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson knows Manchester City have transformed the Premier League in recent seasons.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson knows Manchester City have transformed the Premier League in recent seasons.

Starting with that memorable Michael Owen injury-time winner, there have been two semi-finals which yielded one victory apiece, Wayne Rooney's magnificent winner at Old Trafford last season, United just holding off a rampant 10-man City to claim an FA Cup third round triumph at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season, and the Blues' magnificent 6-1 win last October.

"We have to get used to playing Manchester City in important games," said Ferguson.

"They are not going away. The support they have means we are going to be playing them in a lot of big games - finals maybe. We already have done in semi-finals and an important cup tie this season.

"If we are going to be contesting for league titles regularly - and I think we will be doing - it will become just as important as the Liverpool game.

"Maybe not in terms of emotion but there is certainly an importance which, at this moment in time, supercedes the Liverpool games.

"They are our direct opponents now. Manchester City are up against us to win titles. That is what our focus is on, the team who can stop us winning."

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