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Jan, 2, 2010

Ferguson happy to renew rivalry with Leeds United

Sir Alex Ferguson misses Manchester United's annual showdowns with Leeds United and is happy to welcome them to Old Trafford after nearly six years of being parted. The Roses rivals lock horns in the FA Cup on Sunday, their first meeting since Leeds tumbled into the Championship. With 9,000 fans travelling across the Pennines, the West Yorkshire outfit are guaranteed a noisy following that will further fuel an atmosphere Ferguson expects to be tinged with hostility.

It was always the same at Elland Road, a ground Ferguson once described as the most intimidating venue in Europe.

But those are the atmospheres the Scot loves the most.

"I used to enjoy the rivalry," he said. "It makes you perform. There have been some fantastically feisty occasions over the years and there was always a tinge of hostility.

"We always told the players to make sure they behaved properly on the pitch because we didn't need to add to the problems off it.

"Leeds are bringing 9,000 fans, so it will be a busy day for the police. But it will be an absolutely brilliant atmosphere and should be a good cup tie as well."

Ferguson has been impressed enough by the way Simon Grayson has changed Leeds' fortunes to feel it worth fielding a starting line-up similar to the one which demolished Wigan on Wednesday, even though United are facing an even more demanding Carling Cup semi-final at Manchester City next week.

Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are amongst those expected to be involved, while Wayne Rooney will hope to continue his recent scoring streak, having taken his tally for the season to 15.

"We don't need to spell out what Sunday's game means to the Manchester United fans," admitted Ferguson. "Leeds are a decent side who will not be too far away from the Premier League in the next couple of years.

"When you look at the position they are in at the moment in League One, they look certain to be in the Championship next year. And with the motivation and drive that is coming from the manager, they have a great chance of going further.

"Simon Grayson is a local boy himself, as well being a former player. Some people have targets in life. He has reached his and his team are not letting him down."

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