Lescott: United treat City as smaller club

Joleon Lescott claims that Manchester United still treat Liverpool as their biggest rivals, despite City's recent surge.

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United gaffer Sir AlexFerguson has long insisted that a United versus Liverpool encounter trumps all other matches in the Premier League, even though the resurgence of a cash rich City side has represented much more of a threat than their Merseyside counterparts.

City marker Lescott has now jumped into the debate, with the England international suggesting that Ferguson should admit that a clash with Roberto Mancini's troops now represents the biggest match in the English footballing calendar.

"They find it hard to admit. They enjoy saying Liverpool is the biggest game and treating us as a smaller club," Lescott said according to an article from The Sun.

"We don't mind that. I'm sure that if we win the Premier League, people will have a different opinion."

"I think a lot more United fans take us a lot more seriously now. We are the main competition for the league at the moment."

"Obviously, history-wise it is Liverpool. But I think now and in the future Manchester City will be United's biggest title rivals."

City will enter their mammoth match against United in the FA Cup third round at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as favourites.

Although the Citizens walloped the Red Devils 6-1 at Old Trafford last October and carved out a 1-0 win in the FA Cup semi-final last campaign, Lescott felt that his side's 3-2 defeat against their rivals during this season's Community Shield has been the catalyst for a City onslaught.

City were cruising 2-0 at the interval with Lescott himself drawing first blood for his side; however Ferguson had other ideas and was the chief architect behind United's eventual 3-2 win.

Lescott explained, "The most significant result was the Community Shield."

"We went to Wembley and in the second half, and the first half as well really, they taught us a lesson."

"That humbled us a lot. We have used that a lot more than the 6-1 or the semi-final."

"Going in 2-0 up at half-time and I hate to say it, because no one did so, but maybe you think 'We're not going to lose, we're not going to concede three in a game of football, never mind a half'. We were a bit naive."

"Since the start of the season, we've never looked like that."

"We've always thought we need to get another goal. It has taught us something about the mentality of champions."

City put that lesson of outscoring their opponent into further practice in October when they allowed United to grab a goal to make it 3-1.

However, City refused to allow their opponents to stamp their authority on the pitch and City plundered in a further three goals to mark one of the darkest days in United's celebrated history at Old Trafford.

"I think the dressing room would have been louder than it was had the manager not come in so soon after," Lescott said.

"All the boys were hyped. But he came in and said 'It's just three points, just like the week before and, hopefully, like next week."

"That settled us right down and we just got on with it."

"I think if it had been at home it would have been different. But when you're away, you have to respect the opposition. We just got changed and went home."

Lescott also revealed that Mancini adopts a no-nonsense approach and let fly at his charges when they conceded a goal right at the death against Sunderland after getting caught out on the break.

"He let us know what he felt. He was a bit more than disappointed but it gets left in the changing room," Lescott added.

"There were no meetings the next day or things being said that shouldn't have been. You have to learn from these situations. You can't win every game. Sometimes a point away is a good result."

"At times he lets us enjoy it, at other times he lets us have it. He has been in this situation before so knows what it takes to get there."

"He has raised the standard of a lot of players."

"You want to progress and, if the manager can help you do that, then great. He has changed a lot of people's mentality."

"To beat United in all competitions would be great but it will be tough."

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