Manchester City's fans are revelling in the role of noisy neighbours.  And they can’t wait to turn up the volume on derby day next season.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s description of the Blues two years ago as the irritants next door has passed into Manchester’s football lexicon.

With City on the rise after qualifying for the Champions League and winning the FA Cup, there’s a genuine hope among the Eastlands faithful that next season could turn out to be something very special.

But even with new European adventures to look forward to, there’s nothing like the prospect of a Manchester derby to get the juices flowing.

With the Premier League fixtures released on Friday, every City fan has two key dates pencilled in next season’s diary.

“Within a couple of hours of the fixtures coming out, I’d already had half-a-dozen texts about the derby dates,” said Howard Burr, secretary of the Reddish Blues branch of City’s supporters club.

“The derby dates are always the first ones I look for, along with the Boxing Day and new year fixtures.”

For the record, City go to Old Trafford on October 22, with the return on April 28, although both matches are certain to be televised live which could see those dates change.

Boxing Day brings a trip down the M6 to West Brom – just as it did in 1999, when goals from Danny Granville and Shaun Goater secured a 2-0 win for City en route to promotion from the First Division.

City face the longer haul to Sunderland on new year’s eve, before Liverpool visit Eastlands on January 2.

As for the start to the season, City’s first four fixtures ought to give them a chance to get a few points on the board before the Champions League group games kick in.

The Blues start at home to Swansea on August 13, followed by trips to Bolton and Tottenham ahead of an international break, before Wigan visit Eastlands on September 10. City’s first Champions League fixture will fall on the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

“I don’t think Swansea will be an easy fixture,” Burr said. “Brendan Rodgers is a very good coach – I know Roberto Mancini wanted to bring him on to the staff at City before he went to Swansea.

“But it’s a chance for us to hit the ground running ahead of the Champions League.

“People are asking how we’re going to combine the demands of that competition with the Premier League, and I think that’s all going to depend on the depth of the squad.

“Roberto Mancini is going to be bringing in some players over the summer, and I think we’re going to be there or thereabouts in the league next season.

“It would be great to have a run in the Champions League like Spurs did – all credit to Harry Redknapp for that. But their

Premier League form suffered because of a lack of depth in the squad, and so the key for us is to make sure we’ve got that depth.

“I’m a bit wary of making predictions about next season – my heart says one thing and my head says another. But it’s going to be exciting. The noisy neighbours are going to get noisier. They’re going to need ear defenders at Old Trafford!”

One other date worth flagging up for City fans is May 5. It’s the day of the FA Cup final and, once again, there will be a full round of Premier League fixtures that weekend, with City due to visit Newcastle.

City’s cup final triumph over Stoke last month had to compete for attention with United’s clinching of a record 19th league title. Burr is not happy at the prospect of a clash being repeated.

“I think it’s outrageous,” he said. “If they are going to have Premier League fixtures on cup final weekend, why not play them on the Sunday or the Monday?

“It’s a case of TV ruling the roost. When people start moaning about this kind of fixture clash, I say to them: ‘Do you have Sky?’ Most of the time, they do. So I tell them: ‘You’re creating the problem’.”