Ferguson boost for City's Mancini

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 16, 2011 (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson believes it's now only matter of time before mega-rich Manchester City realise their potential and are challenging on a regular basis for silverware.

The Manchester United manager has seen his side dominate for over two decades during his trophy-laden spell in the Old Trafford hot-seat.

AFP - Sir Alex Ferguson

Since their Abu-Dhabi-based takeover three years ago, neighbours City have signalled their intent recruiting the likes of Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko with the promise of further big-name arrivals to follow.

The sides will meet in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday.

And Ferguson believes that the blue half of Manchester will soon be challenging amid their revolution that sees them bidding to end a 35-year-wait for a trophy.

"It's obvious with the money they've invested they have got big plans," said Ferguson.

"There's no question about that. There's nothing wrong with that. You try and do the best with what you've got.

"They have a strong squad and their position at the moment is fair. This is where they wanted to be, in the Champions League next season and they have a good chance of that.

"It's between five of them, with Tottenham probably in the same position. It's between those two.

"You would expect Chelsea, Arsenal and ourselves to be in there. So no doubt there's been a definite improvement there."

Opposite number Roberto Mancini is under pressure to deliver for Manchester City as they look to break their barren run and fill their trophy cabinet.

Ferguson can empathise with the Italian, having only kick-started 20 years of dominance at Manchester United with their FA Cup Final win over Crystal Palace in 1990.

Ferguson explained: "It was a big moment for us, but we were confident. It was a fantastic final, one of the better ones, 3-3 in a cup final and we won the replay.

"But winning the first trophy at any level is important. I've experienced that of winning the first trophy in Aberdeen, St Mirren and here."

Manchester United remain in contention for the treble with the veteran Scot warning his side are peaking at the right time as they look to edge themselves over the finishing line.

"We have got momentum at the moment. We are winning games at this point of the season, the consistency of the team is good.

"We are playing well and as I've said we have a great determination of our players that has given us a good chance.

"We are fighting for very corner which is a great attitude to have at this time of the season."

Meanwhile, Owen Hargreaves could have played his last game for Manchester United after Ferguson revealed the midfielder is unlikely to return before the end of the season.

The injury-hit Hargreaves has endured chronic injury problems since his arrival from Bayern Munich in 2007.

A key member of the Premier League and Champions League-winning squads during his debut season, he had to battle through a tendinitis problem in both knees, which eventually required surgery.

Hargreaves, 30, lasted just five minutes of a surprise start against Wolves at Old Trafford this season before pulling his hamstring.

Now the England midfielder has sustained a shoulder injury which Ferguson does not believe he will recover from. Hargreaves' contract expires in the summer and there must now be major question marks over him ever playing for club again.

Ferguson added: "It's a shoulder injury. It has just brought his season to an end.

"He has just carried bad luck all the time he has been here. I am pretty sure he won't be playing this season.

"His contract is up at the end of the season but I don't know what is going to happen."

"(United chief executive) David Gill had a discussion with the boy last week. But no more than that. We have to make a decision."

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