RDM plays down Fergie mind-games

Alex Ferguson, left, and Roberto Di Matteo, right, pit their wits against each other this weekend

Alex Ferguson, left, and Roberto Di Matteo, right, pit their wits against each other this weekend

First published in National Sport News © by

Roberto Di Matteo is ready to combat Sir Alex Ferguson's mind games with his own brand of covert psychology as he prepares for their first clash since he became Chelsea boss.

Di Matteo played down the significance of the public jousting with rival bosses, but revealed he would resort to fighting fire with fire if necessary as he prepared to pit his wits against the man he admitted was still the best in the business in Sunday's mouthwatering Barclays Premier League clash between the sides.

"If I need to, I will, but there is no need and sometimes it doesn't have to be publicly," said Di Matteo, who Blues winger Juan Mata revealed this week had proven a master of getting inside his own players' heads.

Ferguson has a reputation for getting inside the head of United's title rivals but Di Matteo was quick to point out the affect the Scot's mind games had on champions Manchester City.

"They didn't work last season, I think," he added. "You make it out a little bit more than it is at the end of the day. As a manager, you have to prepare your team as good as you can and then the players have to go on the pitch and perform."

Nobody has done that better than Ferguson in the last quarter of a century. Di Matteo, who revealed the Scot had not made contact with him since he landed the Chelsea job, said: "He's at the top. He's a very successful manager and experienced manager.

"He's won many trophies. I think he's been fortunate as well to be able to work at a club where he's been able to be there such a long time. It doesn't happen these days too often."

Frank Lampard will miss at least two weeks with the calf injury he picked up in the midweek Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 34-year-old midfielder had to be substituted midway through the first half as the European champions lost 2-1 to the Ukrainian side.

Di Matteo confirmed on Friday that Lampard would be out for a couple of weeks, meaning he will initially miss the back-to-back games against Manchester United including Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge

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