Patrick Vieira
Vieira claims his comments were taken out of context. REUTERS

Patrick Vieira and Rio Ferdinand have both reacted to comments by the Manchester City excecutive, after Vieira made the explosive claim to BBC reporter Dan Roan that Manchester United receive preferential refereeing at Old Trafford.

Vieira told the reporter: "When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don't get.

"I think when you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona, or Milan, when the referees referee these kind of games, it's always difficult to go against these kind of teams. This is the way it is.

"It's something the teams who are used to winning get all the time, so we need to win games so we have this advantage in the future."

This prompted Ferdinand to take to his twitter account and voice his displeasure at the comments, with the United defender saying: "Why is Viera so concerned with Man Utd....2 comments in a week or so....c'mon maaaaaan let it go!"

Shortly after, Manchester City released a statement on behalf of Vieira, effectively banned Roan from attending press conferences in the future.

"Patrick Vieira has expressed his disappointment and anger at what he feels is a serious and cynical misrepresentation of an interview he gave to the BBC," said the statement.

"Manchester City's football development executive gave the interview at the annual SoccerEx exhibition at the GMEX Convention Centre on Wednesday afternoon. He was representing Football Against Hunger, a campaign to tackle starvation in Africa.

"An interview given to the BBC's Dan Roan contained what Patrick feels was a very leading line of questions regarding Manchester United supposedly receiving favourable treatment by referees. Patrick feels that his views have been deliberately taken out of context."

Much talk has surrounded the need for United and City to play mind games with one another as the season hits the business end. And with just three points separating the cross-town rivals, and a showdown scheduled for April 30, the title race could well come down to their mental strength being pitted against one another rather than on-the-pitch performances.