The moment you make a jovial statement through gritted teeth, used in this instance to make a joke even though you know that it may not be too far from the truth in the future, shows you now believe you have a real challenge to deal with.
As a rather sunburnt Sir Alex Ferguson discussed the Premier League favourites for the upcoming season, he smirked as he mentioned ‘the noisey neighbours’ labeling them the biggest club in the world. He encouraged a slight murmur of laughter from those American journalists present at the pre-season press conference in the States, although some were uneasy, unsure whether he was in fact joking.
If his intention was to elicit a cross American war of words from Cities olive skinned boss, also in the states for pre-season, he may need to push harder. A jibe at his erratic center forward's attitude after a controversial back heel, or at his difficulties in contacting his captain and star player, may have pushed the Italian closer to a response, although his composed manner is unlikely to be unsettled by Ferguson’s comments.
In fact the Glaswegian’s red face may have tinged a further shade of scarlet this morning upon reading that Argentine Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero is in Manchester to discuss and finalise a £38million transfer. United’s own spending thus far has eclipsed each of their rivals although they are yet to bring in a marquee signing with the pedigree of Aguero. Young, Jones and De Gea all bring quality and youth but also highlight the absence of a playmaker to replace Scholes.
The loss of Scholes coupled with the likelihood that Fletcher will miss the beginning of the season with a recurrence of the virus that kept him out of last years run-in, means Sir Alex is left with a midfield of Carrick, Anderson, Park and Giggs. Leaving them somewhat short of quality, unless of course Wesley Sneijder is bought in although no official approach has been made.
Cities new singing is likely to push United back into the market. A frontline which now consists of Aguero, Ballotelli, Dzeko and for the time being Tevez, supported by David Silva, Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson is enough to make anybody stand up and take notice. Ferguson has every right to look uneasy as he reaches for the factor fifty.
Don't forget the aftersun Fergie.