Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has branded rivals Manchester City ''cocky'' ahead of Sunday's eagerly-anticipated derby clash at Old Trafford.
Ferguson hit out at his local rivals after their 100% start to the season and warned opposite number Mark Hughes he must win the Premier League title to justify his £200 million spending spree.
The Scot, who has not held his tongue about the rise of Manchester's blue half, told Sirius XM Radio: 'The rivalry has gone up a notch in the last few months, with them signing all those players and then coming up with that advert and all their posters about Carlos Tevez. They've been a bit, how can I put it, cocky. Yes, a bit cocky. They've got seven centre forwards now, which is crazy, just amazing.''
Ferguson is keen to win his fourth consecutive title, but thinks City will have to pip his side to the post if they are to justify such a large investment.
''When you have spent that amount of money, and the wages they are paying, you have to win the league with that kind of investment,'' he said. ''That's where the difficulty will come for them.
''It's going to be very difficult for them to win the league when you see ourselves, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal because they've got to beat the four of us at some point to get the league.
''It's very difficult to get into the top four and it's even more difficult to get into the top one - and that's what this league is all about, being No. 1.''
Ferguson also claimed that he is unconcerned by Carlos Tevez's possible absence ahead of the match this weekend.
''I am not bothered whether Tevez plays or not - Manchester City's best player won't be playing,'' he said. ''Adebayor is their star player, there is no question about that. He has scored in every game so far.''
In another put-down to his big-spending rivals, Ferguson added that he will continue to view Liverpool as United's major local rivals.
''To me, Liverpool has always been the derby,'' he said. ''It is because of the history. My aim was always to do well against them. It is hard for me to think any other way.''