Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Fergie: Hughes sacking could haunt City

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson believes the "unethical" manner of Mark Hughes' sacking by Manchester City could help trigger a Devon Loch-style collapse next week that opens the Barclays Premier League title door for Manchester United.

Although United beat Swansea 2-0 at Old Trafford, the margin of victory was not enough to suggest they will be able to overhaul City on goal difference on the final weekend. Instead, they will go to Sunderland hoping relegation-threatened QPR - managed by Hughes - can deny Manchester City victory at the Etihad Stadium.

Hughes was dumped by City after a game against Sunderland in December 2009, with Roberto Mancini already lined up to replace him, and Ferguson said: "QPR need a point and they're fighting for survival. But Mark knows his job all right. He was sacked by City in a very unethical way and he'll remember that."

Ferguson continued: "There could be a Devon Loch. You never know. Stranger things have happened in this game of football. They're red-hot favourites but we've won the title on three occasions on the last day and we don't mind doing it again."

Speaking on the pitch, addressing supporters after the final whistle, Ferguson told them to get ready for "the biggest celebration of their lives" at Sunderland next week.

Yet earlier, he had conceded "they probably have two hands on the trophy".

"The crowd will be right behind them," he said. "And they will be into the referee as they were doing against us."

Should City win, it leaves United open to becoming the first team to lose the league on goal difference since they inflicted a similar fate on Leeds in 1965.

"We did what we had to do, we won the match," said Ferguson. "There was optimism from our fans and ourselves about scoring a lot of goals but it was over-optimism.

"It wasn't too difficult to lift them before the game. They all knew their responsibility. They know the expectation of this club that whenever you play, wherever you play and whoever you play we are expected to win."

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