Belfast Telegraph

Ferguson hails United temperament

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned title rivals Manchester City that his team will not crack on the run-in.

After picking up just seven points from as many Barclays Premier League away games, City have surrendered the initiative in the battle for domestic supremacy. The Blues could slip four points behind their fierce rivals, who visit relegation-threatened Wolves at the weekend, before they face a tough encounter with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on March 21.

Following a 2-0 win over West Brom, Ferguson reiterated his belief in his side's mental resolve, and said: "We have that experience and it does help. We won't get nervous. Against West Brom we kept playing our football even at 1-0 when the fans were thinking 'just get us a second'. It didn't concern the players one bit. It is good to see that kind of temperament."

United's newly-gained league status should sharpen minds ahead of this week's Europa League return encounter with Athletic Bilbao.

While Ferguson would never merely give a game up, he is highly unlikely to ask his first-choice XI to turn around a tie they should really have no chance in anyway such was the brilliance of the Basque outfit in their 3-2 win at Old Trafford.

Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand are unlikely to be risked and it would be no surprise if Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney were on the bench as Ferguson attempts to keep key men fresh for the weekend trip to Molineux.

As City have stuttered, so United have come flying through a sequence of fixtures many felt would signal the end of their challenge. But victories over Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, in addition to a three-goal comeback that clinched a point at Chelsea, has turned them into favourites.

"We felt if we came through those tough away fixtures we would be setting ourselves up for the rest of the season," said winger Ashley Young.

"We have managed to do that and now our home form is key. A lot of people might not have thought we would be in front of City but we have that belief.

"As long as we are winning our games, the pressure is on them."


From Belfast Telegraph