Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted only a "masochist" would enjoy Manchester United and Manchester City's duel for the premier League title.
United are three points clear of their neighbours at the top of the league, but defeat would see the Blues leapfrog them due to a superior goal difference.
And speaking at his pre-match press conference a day earlier than usual, the Scot said: "You would have to be a confirmed masochist to enjoy it. But we are looking forward to it and the players will be fully prepared for it."
Ferguson, aiming to clinch his 13th English league title and the club's 20th, once memorably said "You must be joking. Do I look as if I'm a masochist ready to cut myself?" when asked if Liverpool could end their title draught.
He admitted the Reds' season hinges on the fourth derby of the campaign.
"I suppose when the fixture came out at the beginning of the season, all the roads pointed to this game," he opined.
"It was inevitable, maybe. But we are where we are and it doesn't matter what's happened before, who's dropped points or who hasn't dropped points. It really is all down to this game. It will be a fantastic atmosphere and I hope it lives up to the billing.
"I don't know how many countries are going to be watching it but it will be considerable. Hopefully it's a very good game."
United beat City in the last Manchester derby:
Last week United drew 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford, despite leading the game 3-1 and 4-2. Goals from Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar in the final 10 minutes - coupled with City beating Wolves three hours later - have handed Roberto Mancini's side the initiative. Ferguson remains vexed by the two dropped points.
"We're smarting from throwing that game away last week. In the context of our history, we almost expected it. We tend to make it hard for ourselves. Our supporters have been subjected to that sort of drama for years and years. God knows what their nerves are like now but, hopefully, we'll make amends on Monday."
With City also in the position of all or nothing, having been eliminated from both domestic and European cups earlier this term, Ferguson was keen to pile the pressure on Mancini.
"Roberto wants to take the pressure off his own players," he insisted. "That's possible but it doesn't matter. It won't affect our approach or attitude to the game.
"We know the exact situation we're in. We're in a better position than Manchester City. We could come out with two results, whereas they only have one. Although you know my attitude and this club's attitude - we'll be trying to win.
Experience has been integral to an underwhelming United side lying in top spot with just three games to go, and the 70-year-old was eager to advertise the winning mentality his squad boasts.
"I think there's enough experience. Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, even Wayne Rooney has amassed a lot of football in his short time in the game. Michael Carrick as well. There's enough experience in the camp to cope with this situation.
"I think the previous encounters this season are irrelevant. We've already met three times but the past is the past. It doesn't matter. It's all down to Monday.
"I don't know if you thrive in this sort of situation. I don't know if I'm looking forward to it, but I'm up for it. I'm prepared for it and I think the players are prepared for it. Hopefully, we'll do okay."
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