Sir Alex Ferguson paid a surprising compliment to Roberto Mancini ahead of the decisive final day of the Premier League season, confessing Mancini has matched him in the mind games department just as Jose Mourinho once did at Chelsea.
Mancini looks set to win the war with Ferguson this weekend, with victory for Manchester City over QPR surely enough to snatch the title from champions and fierce local rivals United.
The situation was unimaginable in early April when City trailed United by eight points after defeat to Arsenal. However, a combination of United losing focus and Mancini's mind games have taken City to the brink of a first title in 44 years.
Ever since the race fell back into their own hands, Mancini has maintained United remain favourites. He said it before the Manchester derby, and he repeated his belief even though City won. Now, with a seemingly simple home game against QPR to come, Mancini maintains United have the easier task at Sunderland.
The Italian's words have all been designed to remove the pressure from his squad, much as Mourinho used to do with his title-winning Chelsea side by ensuring every headline was about him. Ferguson had real struggles getting the better of the Portuguese, and he admits Mancini is a similar challenge.
"We had to contend with Jose's management style, which was very effective," Ferguson said. "He did a fantastic job [at Chelsea].
"You knew you were competing against a very clever manager. You weren't just facing the money, you were facing a very united squad.
"They were hard to beat. City are very similar to Chelsea at that time. Some of their players have had outstanding seasons. When you win the league you need five or six players who are consistently good all the time.
"City have had that this year and the manager, for most of the part, has done well."