Belfast Telegraph

Beating Manchester City to Premier League title 'would be Fergie's greatest triumph'

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United great Pat Crerand believes winning the Premier League title this season would be Sir Alex Ferguson's greatest feat in management.

Given the incredible record Ferguson has enjoyed in charge of Aberdeen and United it is some statement.

But Crerand, a league championship and European Cup winner with the Old Trafford club in the 60s, backs it up with a good argument.

United moved five points clear of rivals Manchester City at the top of the table on Monday night with a vital 2-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers.

It was the latest in an impressive line of positive results for Ferguson's team.

In contrast everything appears to be negative at City right now, from indifferent form to the problems with the troublesome Mario Balotelli.

It wasn't too long ago that it seemed with all their big money players, Roberto Mancini's men would coast to the title, but with just seven games left in the season, they look destined to finish behind the Red Devils.

Crerand insists Ferguson's influence has been the telling factor.

“I put it down to the United manager, who has handled everything brilliantly. He really is incredible,” says Crerand of his fellow Scot.

“Early on in the season City seemed as though they would be impossible to beat.

“They were scoring lots of goals and were well ahead of United in the table but Sir Alex stayed calm and knew a time would come when City wouldn't have things all their own way.

“When that time came, United took advantage going on a great run which included wins over Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal as well as a draw at Chelsea after we were three goals down.

“Now United are strong favourites for the title and the manager deserves so much credit for that.

“I would go as far to say that given all that happened this season, winning the title in May would be Sir Alex Ferguson's greatest triumph.

“You have to remember this is a young, inexperienced squad who were caught out in Europe because of that.

“United have also suffered a lot of injuries to key players yet Sir Alex has guided them through that as well as the big challenge from City.

“They spent massive amounts of money and expected to win the league, but it's United who are coming good when it really matters.”

Crerand added that the win over Blackburn, secured thanks to fantastic late strikes from Antonio Valencia and substitute Ashley Young, was a huge result.

The 73-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph: “You could see what it meant to the players when the goals went in. Antonio Valencia is the quietest, most shy man you could ever meet, but he went crazy after his goal. He and the rest of the team knew it was a big result.”

Crerand suggests that defeating City in the title race could lead to further successes with transfer targets in the summer.

“United winning the title would send out a message that they are still the top team in England despite all of City's spending which will help when United are buying players in the summer.

“The Manchester clubs will be competing for top players and while City can offer massive wages, by winning the title United can say they offer trophies and medals.

“And anyone who joins United will be on a great salary anyway.”

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