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The Punter: Manchester United may have to settle for second

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Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

The red lights are flashing for Manchester United. And that means all is far from well.

Supporters are getting edgy not only as far as the Premier League is concerned, but also regards their forthcoming Champions League clash with AC Milan.

The latest draw at Birmingham, while in itself not a bad result considering the current form of the Blues, will be seen as another missed opportunity to keep the pressure on Chelsea.

The cracks are appearing in various areas of the United team and Red Devil fans will be relieved that Wayne Rooney continues his own good form. Without him, United would be in big trouble as it is clear that several players are not up to what is expected of United calibre players and that includes Dimitar Berbatov.

And with the financial commitments faced by United’s American owners, there is not going to be much in the kitty to improve matters in the January transfer window where the greatest focus will be on attaining a top defender to link up with Nemanja Vidic who still remains an important part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans.

United should still not be out of the top three no matter what happens between now and next May, but it is the top two spots only that guarantee a place in the Champions League group stages.

Those betting on United’s final position have taken different stances, with Hill’s quoting 11-8 for second spot and 13-8 for third and 11-4 to be first while Bet365 go 9-4 for second, 12-5 first and 11-4 third.

Grab that 11-4 and 9-4 with the latter firm as it guarantees a profit to level stakes for second and third.

An outlay of £4 on both finishes, will provide a £1 profit if United are third and £3 if second.

Although they are only one point behind Chelsea with a game more played, we have to work on the basis that they will fall short of winning the title for a fourth year in a row.

They are renowned for coming on strong in the latter stages of the season, but United have been dropping points all too easily for comfort.

And Carlos Tevez’s latest hat-trick — 10 goals in seven matches — will be hurting at the Theatre of Dreams where he was loved by the fans.

As for Michael Owen, it seems he has shot his bolt at Old Trafford.

Even with the lack of firepower at Birmingham, Owen did not come off the bench and that speaks volumes as to his future and perhaps more importantly, his chance of being in the England squad for South Africa. He is now as big as 4-1 to be given the thumbs up and 1-7 to be rejected.

Belfast Telegraph