MANCHESTER CITY manager Mark Hughes admits he finds it “amusing” that his club are getting under the skin of Alex Ferguson.
Hughes hopes to add to his former boss’s displeasure by winning the bragging rights in the derby against Manchester United tomorrow.
Ferguson believes City have become cocky and arrogant following a influx of new money that has allowed Hughes to invest heavily in his squad.
United veteran’s supremo has also been angered by a poster of Carlos Tevez that stated “Welcome to Manchester” after he switched colours in the summer.
Hughes could not stifle a chuckle when he said: “It does seem to have upset Sir Alex for some reason.
“We take it as a little bit of flattery because maybe in recent years City have not affected the thinking of Manchester United. Possibly that has changed now.
“I am sure Sir Alex is sick and tired of people sticking a microphone under his nose and asking him about Man City rather than Man United. That has not happened in recent years.
“I can understand why he gets a bit irritated by it. That’s quite amusing from my point of view.”
Hughes dismisses suggestions that City – chasing a fifth successive victory — could become widely unpopular because of their wealth and collective attitude.
Hughes said: “All we are trying to do is make this football club better and stronger. If that irritates people, then we cannot do anything about someone’s reaction.
“We try to go about our business in a correct way. Surely everyone must want a challenge from somewhere.
“For too long the top four has been set in stone. Maybe we should be given a little bit of encouragement in that regard.
“I think with the nature of the football we produce we will gain fans along the way because we try and play in right way as we are attack-minded.”
Hughes claims United are not the force they were following the departures of Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“They have lost two significant players from last year and any team will be affected by that, ” said the City boss. “You cannot afford to lose players of that standard and not replace them.
“I have watched a number of their games and don’t think they are playing as well as they did last season.
“United’s display against Tottenham (3-1 victory) was their stand-out performance. Prior to that they have been below par.”
Tevez has returned to training following a knee injury and faces a late fitness test to see if he can face United at Old Trafford.
The addition of Tevez would be a boost for Hughes as Adebayor starts a three-match suspension.
Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz remain sidelined through injury and Craig Bellamy is likely to start as the lone striker.
Hughes confirmed City are to contest the improper conduct charge laid against striker Emmanuel Adebayor by the FA.
Adebayor was charged following his goal celebration last weekend in the 4-2 victory against his former club Arsenal at Eastlands.
He raced to the far end of the ground where the visiting supporters were gathered, sparking volatile scenes.
However Hughes confirmed the club would be contesting the charge.
Hughes believes Adebayor, who is already starting a three-match ban after accepting a violent conduct charge for a stamp on Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, has a good case.
The former Blackburn boss said: “We have time to construct our arguments. We have a view and a period of time to make our feelings known.
“The circumstances of the game and the amount of criticism and vitriol Ade had to take was not nice. It was a difficult situation for him coming up against former team-mates.
“Some of those former team-mates felt they could not even shake his hand before the game.
“All these things can perhaps affect someone’s emotional state. The celebration was an outpouring of that.’’
Even though City and the player accepted the violent conduct charge Hughes insists it was unjust.
He said: “I know and Ade is adamant that he did not intend to hurt van Persie. Unfortunately with these things you are not allowed to have a personal hearing.
“I asked Ade, ‘Did you mean to do it’. He looked me in the eye and said ‘no’. That’s our stance.
“There was no intent. It was not malicious. It was an accident and I believe him.”
Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas said Adebayor also tried to injure him – a claim dismissed by Hughes.
“I do not recall Fabregas not finishing the game,” said the City boss.
“I think he played 90 minutes on Wednesday (against Standard Liege) as well. Maybe the injury was not too bad.”
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