Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has launched an amazing attack on rivals Manchester City and warned them he has ''plenty of ammunition'' if they want to engage in mind games.
Fergie hits back at 'desperation' comments
• Vieira: Scholes return showed weakness
• Nasri wants title decider
• Rio aims jibe at City
Earlier this week, former Blues midfielder Patrick Vieira said the decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement smacked of desperation. However, United have won nine Premier League games and drawn one with Scholes in the team, suggesting the move has worked.
It certainly has provided Ferguson with the opportunity to hit back in a week when Carlos Tevez has made his controversial return to the Manchester City fold.
''If it's desperation bringing the best midfielder in Britain back for the last 20 years then I think we can accept that,'' said Ferguson. ''I think he (Vieira) was programmed for that.
''Roberto had a wee dig a couple of weeks back. We're all going to play our hand that way. There will be plenty of ammunition for that.
''If you talk about desperation, they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch, the manager said he'd never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in Argentina. What is that? Could that come under the description of desperation?''
Ferguson also rejected Vieira's assertion that a further sign of United struggling was their inability to keep hold of Ravel Morrison during the January transfer window and their on-going battle to retain midfielder Paul Pogba.
''The point he made about Ravel Morrison and losing our young players - we wanted to sell him (Morrison) let's be clear about that, for obvious reasons," he said.
''But we want Pogba to stay because we think he's going to be a fantastic Manchester United player and hopefully that's the case.''
Ferguson confirmed he expects to have a strong squad available after Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Fabio, Tom Cleverley and Paul Pogba all came through a reserve-team outing against Aston Villa.
''Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have been in and out in particular in terms of illness and injuries over the last couple of months,'' said Ferguson. ''Tom Cleverley, Paul Pogba and Fabio all had a game. We took Paul off purely because he will be involved on Monday.
''It puts us in a position where we have quite a strong squad now. We are only waiting on Nani and Michael Owen. We expect both of them to restart training next week.''
United may be back in second spot by the time they face Fulham at Old Trafford on Monday, although victory will ensure they regain the leadership.
''Every game is must-win now,'' said Ferguson. ''That is no issue for me. I have been used to that for years. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going.''