Belfast Telegraph

Ferguson mindgames - City have the title to lose, says United boss

By Ian Herberty

Sir Alex Ferguson exerted his final piece of pressure on Manchester City by declaring that his own club's chance of a 20th Premier League title will be extinguished if Roberto Mancini's players win at Newcastle United on Sunday.

“Yes. Yes, it looks like it,” Ferguson said solemnly as he reflected on City facing Alan Pardew's vibrant side, with Mark Hughes' relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers to follow.

United lost 3-0 at St James' Park on January 4 and the fifth placed side's 2-0 win at Chelsea on Wednesday night has reinforced the United manager's view that a first title in 44 years will not be handed to City.

“They have got to win at Newcastle, that's the challenge for them,” Ferguson said.

“Newcastle, as we know, is a very difficult place to go to and they're playing well.

“They lost incredibly to Wigan by four goals and then galvanised themselves to go and win 2-0 at Chelsea. As everyone knows, winning at Chelsea is a very difficult job.

“We hadn't done it for eight years so their form is good and it will not be an easy game,” he warned.

United, who have the advantage of playing second in their own home game against Swansea City on Sunday, could have virtually clinched the title themselves if Mancini's side lose and United then beat Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers' team.

Ferguson, who may have Danny Welbeck back for United's last fixture at Sunderland but gave no indication that Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans will return this season, believes that goal difference is now irrelevant with City already eight goals to the good.

Ferguson was as unimpressed as Rodgers and Martin O'Neill probably are by Mancini's suggestion that United's last two games are “easy.”

To the question of whether he accepts Mancini's claim that United remain favourites he replied: “What do you think? They've got two games left. If they win the two games they've won the league.”

Of Mancini's comments he said: “I don't think you get easy games. If you are going to Sunderland on the last day of the season you are thinking with the support they have got up there and the manager they have got, you don't expect an easy game.

“The way Swansea have played this season has been admirable.

“I went to see them last Saturday against Wolves and it was incredible.”

Ferguson expressed surprise at Roy Hodgson's appointment as England manager, although stating in his support that he has “all that experience behind him.”

The unexpected part, Ferguson

said, was “that for the first time I can remember the FA didn't bend to the press.

“The press had their own view of Harry and I think we all supported that. But normally the FA bend to the press.

“Roy, as everyone has pointed out, has fantastic experience, he's a good man and has the right profile in many respects for the job.

“You cannot beat experience. I've always said for that England manager's job you need to be in your 60s without doubt.

“You need to be going into that job with all the experience behind you in the sense do you really need club football at that age when you could be managing the national team.

“He'll obviously need luck in terms of dealing with the press because that's really important in

that job, everyone will want a cut of him.

“If he tries to favour one against the other he'll be slaughtered, so he has to find a way of accommodating all the press as one person.”

The United manager felt that Papiss Cisse's first goal against Chelsea was his better striker than the outrageous shot which delivered his second.

“I thought the first was a better one because he had to get a touch on it,” he said.

“From the angle he was, to put it in the top corner was fantastic.”

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