London: Manchester City have already won one major battle ahead of Monday's Premier League derby: convincing Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson that it is a force to be taken seriously.
Ferguson initially dismissed City as "noisy neighbors" following their 2008 takeover by Abu Dhabi investors but now says that the rivalry is becoming as important as that with their traditional enemy Liverpool.
"If we're going to be contesting with them for the league titles regularly - and I think we will be - it will become almost as important as the Liverpool derbies," Ferguson said. "Maybe not in terms of the emotions; the Liverpool-United games are emotional. But certainly in terms of importance this supersedes Liverpool at the moment because City are our direct opponents.