Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Manchester United's experience key in title run-in, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester City may start to get affected by the scheduling of TV fixtures on the Barclays Premier League title run-in.

Once again, United go second this weekend, with their trip to Tottenham coming on Sunday - 24 hours after City entertain relegation-threatened Bolton.

Next weekend both sides have Sunday fixtures and the weekend after City are not due to be in action until Monday, when they entertain Chelsea, although that match might be pushed back still further due to the FA Cup.

It is the kind of scheduling Ferguson has been dealing with for over two decades now but is totally new for City and their manager Roberto Mancini.

"It doesn't make a difference to us - but it may make a difference to them as they don't have the same kind of experience," Ferguson told Inside United. "You never know."

Ferguson views United's experience as a vital asset and news that Michael Owen has come through his first proper training session after almost four months out with a thigh strain was a source of celebration for the former England man.

"Hallelujah!!! Trained today for the first time and all felt great. Onwards and upwards," he wrote on Twitter.

United look certain to be without Chris Smalling for the White Hart Lane trip after the defender was taken to hospital on Wednesday night after an horrendous clash of heads with Klaas Jan Huntelaar as the Dutchman scored in Holland's 3-2 win over England at Wembley.

It is anticipated Wayne Rooney will return from a throat infection, though, which should bolster United's attack in what could turn out to be a significant game in the title race given the Red Devils have not lost in the Premier League to Spurs since May 2001.

And Rooney is another who buys into the theory that experience could ultimately prove decisive.

"When I was a young lad and first at the club, we might have been losing a game and I'd have been saying 'just put the ball into the box' and panicking a bit about losing," he said.

"Now I'm older and more experienced you know to just keep playing your game as there's always a chance you will get an opportunity to score.

"That comes from playing so many games and the experience you pick up along the way."

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