Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson already focused on title

Sir Alex Ferguson has said Premier League champions Chelsea are the team Manchester United are aiming for after the Red Devils completed an impressive weekend for last season's top two by putting three goals past Newcastle.

Forty-eight hours after the double winners scored six against West Brom, United put another newly-promoted team to the sword.

Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs, who extended his run of scoring in every Premier League season, found the net for Ferguson's men, who were never seriously threatened once Andy Carroll had failed to convert the visitors' best chance.

And already, the top two in the bookmakers' lists have made their intentions clear.

"We will be up there again but Chelsea are the team to beat and we are focused on that," said Ferguson.

"We are pleased to have won 3-0 tonight but goals could come into it.

"Chelsea won it by a landslide last season and we are conscious of that and there are goals in our team as well."

United will continue to score as long as Paul Scholes continues in his current vein of good form.

Man-of-the-match in last week's Community Shield win over Chelsea, Scholes followed up with a similarly impressive display.

The 35-year-old supplied the passes that ended with Berbatov driving home his second goal of an impressive start to the campaign and the chip that Giggs brilliantly volleyed home in the latter stages.

And, while Ferguson played down claims the man Fabio Capello failed to talk out of international retirement to feature at the World Cup, is a man on his own, the Scot did admit Scholes remains a special talent.

"We sometimes beat ourselves up about standards," said Ferguson.

"There is still a lot of good in the game and Paul Scholes produced some of it tonight.

"You do not lose what he has got. He has a marvellous range of passing and his vision is still good.

"And anyone who gets to that age and retains that appetite is blessed with something special."

The words were echoed by Newcastle boss Chris Hughton, who missed out on playing against Scholes and Giggs by a couple of years.

"It doesn't surprise me that both players are so effective," he said.

"They have been able to avoid the big injuries and they have also played all their football in top quality teams.

"They showed so much quality from such an early age."

Hughton revealed Danny Guthrie had been forced to miss the game with a knee problem, whilst Peter Lovenkrands felt a twinge in his groin yesterday, although neither injury is thought to be serious.

Newcastle are also still in the hunt for new players, although Hughton claimed his players could take plenty of positives from their performance this evening, even if, once Berbatov had made Carroll pay for his failure to take an excellent early opportunity, the Magpies' chances of getting anything out of the contest were virtually non-existent.

Ferguson felt Berbatov, who also scored at Wembley last week, might have had three or four.

The Bulgarian failed with one clear second-half chance, created by Wayne Rooney, whose own barren streak goes on.

It is now 13 games since Rooney last found the net for club or country, against Bayern Munich in March, and he snatched at the opportunities that came his way tonight.

However, Ferguson does not seem too worried, despite replacing the 24-year-old with new signing Javier Hernandez after an hour.

"That was always the plan," revealed the United chief.

"Those minutes will bring him on."

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