Sir Alex Ferguson says he would never have allowed Manchester United to go six years without winning a trophy. After expressing his support for his Arsenal counterpart Arsène Wenger, who has not won any silverware since the 2005 FA Cup final, the United manager said a barren period lasting for more than half a decade would have been unthinkable at Old Trafford.
"I would not have allowed it to happen," Ferguson said before Sunday's Premier League home game against Arsenal. "The press would have played their part and you expect that, but I could not have contemplated these things."
Since winning the FA Cup in 1990, there have been only three seasons in which Ferguson has not brought silverware to Manchester. When asked recently if it was possible to have a good season without a trophy he answered tersely: "Not at this club."
"Arsène has got his way of managing and I have got mine," he said. "You do the best with what you believe in and that is what Arsène is trying to do. I don't know exactly what his philosophy is but for a long period he had a group of good young French players but that seems to have dried up a little bit.
"Teams go in cycles and you just have to hope that you are part of that cycle. For years it was Arsenal and ourselves competing for the title. Then it was Chelsea and now Manchester City are on the map. We have always been part of that cycle."
It is five years since Emmanuel Adebayor secured Arsenal's last victory at Old Trafford and since then they have lost six and drawn one of their games there, scoring two goals in the process. Despite qualifying for the Champions League at Udinese – a victory Ferguson both welcomed and expected – Arsenal must overcome a side who last dropped points at Old Trafford 10 months ago and last lost at home in the Premier League in April 2010.
"We need a good home record," said Ferguson, whose side managed as many away wins as relegated Blackpool last season and struggled to overcome West Bromwich Albion on the opening weekend. "The pitch has helped us. Over previous years it went in December and we didn't really get it back until March but there's a young boy, Tony Sinclair, who's our head groundsman now. The pitch is fantastic and it's all to our benefit. With the speed of the pitch and the lighter ball, you definitely need good surfaces.
"We lost the title in 1992 to Leeds because of our pitch. That is why I tried to sign Mick Harford because it was impossible to play football on that pitch. I thought if we got Mick, we could have played it up there and he could have whacked centre-halves out of the road. It was a mistake, we should have signed him."