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SIR ALEX FERGUSON lit the derby week fuse by warning rivals City they need European football to keep their players happy.
English football's top two clubs have Champions League assignments before Sunday's domestic summit meeting at Eastlands.
But while Manchester United are already confirmed as group winners before they face Cluj, City must beat Borussia Dortmund in Germany to have a chance of qualifying for the Europa League.
And although it might suit City to avoid Thursday outings in the 'consolation cup', Ferguson tauntingly suggests that any "big club" needs European competition.
The United boss said: "The Europa League has been a failure if you look at the way our league clubs have treated it. But I don't think losing is ever healthy for a big club and City need to beat Dortmund.
"On the one hand you can play a fresh team every week for the rest of the season if you are not in the Europa League, but how do you keep all your players happy?
"They are out of the League Cup and the Champions League - and for a club of that size it means they've not got enough games to keep the momentum and the interest going.
"There's nothing better than big European nights. I think back to some of the quarter-finals and semi-finals we've had in the European Cup and they were unbelievable games.
"I think of the year we won it and played Inter and Juventus, and the match against Barcelona when Paul Scholes scored that fantastic goal... you cannot beat it.
"I don't know enough about City's players. I've not worked with any of them, apart from Carlos Tevez. But sometimes players want to play every game.
"I've got that …