| 19.3°C Dublin

City's cash will have no bearing on derby says Fergie

Alex Ferguson insists money will have no bearing on tonight's Old Trafford Carling Cup showdown.

While the Manchester derby cannot accurately be described as the princes against the paupers, it certainly feels that way given the number of negative financial stories that have seeped out of United lately.

A deal to sign Fulham's highly rated Chris Smalling may turn out to be an astute piece of business by Ferguson.

But it is definitely low key compared to City's £120m spending spree last summer, and the Blues fans are sure to have some fun at their neighbours' expense when 9,000 of them make the short journey across town for the semi-final decider tonight.

Not that Ferguson believes it will make a scrap of difference to the highly charged atmosphere.

"This has nothing to do with anything other than it is a local derby and it is a semi-final." said Ferguson.

"It doesn't matter if they had no money or little money. It is a route to the final and it is going to be a different game.

"I am certain the atmosphere will be fantastic."



GAMBLE

Ferguson must decide whether to take the ultimate gamble and challenge the violent conduct charge lodged against Rio Ferdinand knowing the Football Association have the power to add further games onto the three-match suspension that will be imposed if they decide the Red Devils have manipulated the regulations purely to allow their £29.1m defender to face City.

It could turn out to be an expensive arm Ferdinand placed into the face of Hull's Craig Fagan on Saturday, and will place even more responsibility on the shoulders of Wayne Rooney if his England team-mate does miss out.

"Wayne is in such great form, there are not many in this country matching him at present," said Ferguson.

"There are other good players in the country but Wayne's goalscoring form has put him up in that frame.

"Wayne has got 20 already and the crucial part of the season is coming up, so he could easily get above 30." With 9,000 City fans making the short journey across town eager to acclaim their resurgent club's first Wembley cup final since 1981, a raucous atmosphere is guaranteed. Pleas have already gone out from Greater Manchester Police and the Football Association for calm.

But Ferguson knows no such assurances were needed when Barcelona came two years ago for a European Cup semi-final that was won with a solitary Paul Scholes goal.

"As we have experienced at Old Trafford so many times over the years, in big game situations, when they are in full voice, it is an incredible experience," he said.

"Some of the European nights I have experienced here have been the most thrilling of my life.

"You can't beat them. You all go away at the end of the night totally satisfied that you are at the right place at the right time in your lives."

Ferguson has banned Sky Television from United's Carrington training ground, seemingly after taking exception to the repeated screening of footage of Gary Neville's one-fingered gesture during the first leg last week.

Although Sky will be allowed to conduct interviews before and after the match tonight, the broadcaster will not be allowed to attend Ferguson's press conference on Friday to preview the match against Arsenal.

Roberto Mancini, the City manager, said he had spoken to his players to remind them of their responsibilities and said that "if we don't keep calm, we could have a problem".

Ferguson, who said he expected "no issues" with the behaviour of his players, has accused Garry Cook of arrogance after the City chief executive claimed that his club are "going to be without doubt the biggest and best football club in the world", and that it was a case of "not if, but when" they beat United to reach Wembley. "Sometimes people can get carried away," Ferguson said. "Only the future will decide that."

MANCHESTER UNITED v MANCHESTER CITY,

LIVE SKY SPORTS 1 (KO 8.0)