Sir Alex Ferguson is in no doubt about what Monday night’s derby means to football fans in Manchester.
“It means everything,” he said. “Everything. Going into work on Tuesday morning will feel like the most important day of their lives. For both sets of supporters.
“Our fans will be looking upon this title [should United win it] as a special one in the sense that it’s against the fans’ most bitter rivals. You can’t get away from that.
“If you ask any fan they’d say it means everything [to win the title]. For me, it’s another league.”
The Reds are in pole position going into Monday’s derby, three points clear at the top. That margin was eight points three weeks ago, however, and Sir Alex admits that, in some ways, it was “almost inevitable” United would make life more difficult than it needed to be.
City have had their chances to open up an unassailable gap, too. The Blues topped the table for 22 of the season’s first 27 weeks before relinquishing it to Sir Alex’s men in mid-March. It begs the question: will whoever finishes second in the title race be left lamenting the one that got away?
“I agree with that,” Sir Alex said. “You’ll have that from both parties. If one loses we’ll be reflecting on what might have been. And yet you look at the points totals both teams will amass and it’s championship form.”