West Ham boss Sam Allardyce hails Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce are old adversaries. Photo: PA

Sam Allardyce has told Manchester City they will always struggle to catch up with Manchester United so long as the man he calls "The Master" is in charge at Old Trafford.

City host West Ham on Saturday in the first game since Roberto Mancini's men lost their status as Barclays Premier League champions.

The Red Devils wrapped up their 20th title with four games to spare on Monday when they beat Aston Villa 3-0.

Despite yet more investment in the squad last summer, City have, for the majority of the season, looked a pale imitation of the side which clinched the title in such a dramatic fashion last season.

Allardyce thinks the main reason behind City's failure to stop their biggest rivals from bouncing back is because of the nous of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson, one of Allardyce's closest friends in management, has suffered setbacks before and the West Ham boss thinks that there is little sign of the 71-year-old's dominance of the English game ending soon.

"You're always chasing the master and he has been the master for so long - it is difficult to sustain success against him," Allardyce told a press conference.

"Whenever he has a challenge, he may lose out once, but he comes back with flying colours. He's had it with Chelsea and before that Arsenal."

Speculation is rife that City will dispense with Mancini this summer due to the vast gulf that has emerged between the two clubs this summer.

City trail United by 16 points, but Allardyce thinks Blues fans can take pride in the way that they have battled their way to an FA Cup final against Wigan, which takes place next month.

"If they win the FA Cup and they finish second, it's a very good season," the 58-year-old said.

"When you win the league for the first time in so many (44) years it is very difficult to win it the second time round - no matter how much money you spend.

"Man City and Roberto will learn from that."

City will, no doubt, respond to losing their crown by trying to land a number of big stars this summer.

Big-money moves for Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao and Gareth Bale have all been mooted while one of the most surprising names reported to be on City's radar is West Ham forward Ravel Morrison.

Morrison swapped Manchester United for Upton Park one year ago but he struggled to break in to the first team and was shipped out on loan to npower Championship side Birmingham.

Allardyce plans to hold talks with the 20-year-old, who was fined £7,000 for a homophobic tweet in February last year, when he returns from his loan spell in the summer.

"We will discuss it when the season is over," Allardyce said.

"All the loan players and those out of contract, we will sit down and make a judgement before we move into contracts with other players."

One of those out-of-contract players is striker Carlton Cole, who has had a poor season, scoring just two goals in 27 appearances after being ousted from the first team by Liverpool loanee Andy Carroll.

Reports claim West Ham have offered the former Chelsea man a new deal to fend off interest from the United States, but Allardyce denied that was the case today.

The West Ham manager said: "He has not been offered a contract verbally."

West Ham will finally guarantee their top-flight status if they become just the second visiting team to win at the Etihad Stadium in the league this season.

An unbeaten five-match run has moved West Ham up to 10th in the table, leaving Allardyce in a relaxed mood.

"We've come out of a bleak spell and are moving into the final throws in a very comfortable position," he said.

"We can enjoy and relax without detracting from performance."