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The day of reckoning

London: Alex Ferguson has aimed one final broadside at Manchester City before Saturday’s day of reckoning in the Premier League, warning of the “untold” damage Roberto Mancini’s team could suffer if they miss out on the title.

With a far superior goal difference to Manchester United, City need only to beat Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium to become champions of England for the first time since 1968.

Ferguson expects United, who visit Sunderland on Sunday, to fall short but, in what seemed like one of his infamous attempts to put psychological pressure on a rival, he suggested that City could suffer serious repercussions if they fail.

“I think the disappointment of City losing out would be unbelievable and it’s untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them,” Ferguson said on Friday.

“On the face of it, you expect City to win and so do I. But as long as human beings are human beings, you never know. You hope something stupid happens.

“We have to win and that’s what we have got to focus on. We can analyse things afterwards. There’s no point in doing that now. It’s the last game of the season, it’s fantastic for the neutral, fantastic for the media, but agony for both clubs — although it will be more so for City if they lose it.

“Their manager [Mancini] for the most part has done well. It’s obvious what he’s had to deal with. But if he didn’t have the incentive then I think it could have fallen apart.

“Some of their (City’s) players have had outstanding seasons. When you win the league you need five or six players who are consistently good all the time. City have had that this year and the manager, for most of the part, has done well.”

Sheikh Mansour, the billionaire City owner, is expected to attend only his second match at the Etihad Stadium since he took control in 2008. Despite his earlier warning about the effect that failure could have on City, Ferguson said that he expects the two Manchester clubs to contest the Premier League title again next season.

“City aren’t going away,” he said. “With the money they have to spend, they will obviously go out and buy more players. But we have our ideas about where we’re going in the summer and I think we will be ready for the challenge next year, no matter what.”

United defender Patrice Evra said that the Red Devils must cling to the hope that City will drop points.

But City have only dropped two points at home all season, so Evra admits it is a long shot, but says all United can do is “believe”.

“We cannot think about what Manchester City are doing,” Evra told reporters.

“We just have to make sure we win.The Sunderland game isn’t easy but if we score first then maybe the City fans in the stadium will start to get nervous. When you are nervous then you can rush things and you don’t do things as well as you'd like.”

The Frenchman said that Ferguson is hurting most after United’s 4-4 draw at Old Trafford against .

“It hurts the manager a lot when we lose a game, more than it used to,” said the France defender.

Mancini, meanwhile, has had to deal with numerous difficulties this season including Carlos Tevez’s lengthy absence from the club and Mario Balotelli’s erratic behaviour.

Mancini said Sunday’s game was not a personal battle between him and his opposite number Mark Hughes, once a United player and the man sacked as City manager to make way for Mancini in December 2009.

QPR need a point to avoid relegation, a point that could also deny City the title and give Hughes some revenge for his sacking.

“For me, they (QPR) are a good team, they don’t deserve to stay at the bottom,” said Mancini.

“They want to do everything to stay in the Premier League and for this reason I think it will be a tough game. I don’t know him very well but it is not Mancini against Hughes or Hughes against Mancini. It is City against QPR.

“One team plays for the title, the other plays against relegation.”