Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Ferguson never expected longevity

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he could never have imagined still being Manchester United manager now when he replaced Ron Atkinson in 1986, let alone be standing on the brink of an historic 19th league championship.

Ferguson is convinced his side will clinch the title if they beat Chelsea on Sunday. That would allow them to move past Liverpool as England's most successful club, a record that seemed impossible when the Merseyside outfit boasted an 18-7 advantage before the first of Ferguson's title triumphs in 1993.

"I didn't envisage it at that time," said the United boss. "I couldn't have envisaged being here that long anyway. The aim at the time was to match them and then be successful ourselves. I came to win that title. Once we won it the club took off. It has been an exceptional period of time but getting the first one was always going to be the target."

As Ferguson knows only too well, there is no point spending much time thinking about it at present because if Chelsea happened to win on Sunday at Old Trafford, United would no longer be top of the table.

They would still have two games to try and turn a goal difference shoot-out back their way but after losing a 15-point lead, which they held heading into the Stamford Bridge meeting between the sides in March, it could be that they are too traumatised to respond.

Little wonder Ferguson is putting so much store by what happens at Old Trafford and giving no thought at all as to how all those points have been whittled away.

"It doesn't matter what happened last Sunday, four Sundays ago, four months ago, four years ago," he said. "We are where we are. We have three games left. We are three points ahead with same goal difference. We are playing at home. Nothing can change it."

Ferguson can console himself with the knowledge that all the points Chelsea have clawed back have come away from Old Trafford, where United have dropped just two points - to West Brom in October - all season.

"Our home record is probably the best in Europe," said Ferguson.

"Maybe because our away record has been ordinary, the players have felt the need to step up to the mark at home. People still criticise us for not being great this season but we have scored more goals than anyone else, so we must be doing something right."

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