Belfast Telegraph

Sir Alex Ferguson in no hurry for Manchester United to clinch title

Sir Alex Ferguson has declared he would be delighted if Manchester United had to win their last game against Blackpool to win the Premier League title.

United head into a pivotal week currently nursing a six-point lead over closest rivals Chelsea.

Carlo Ancelotti's men head to Old Trafford next Sunday. Before that though, the Red Devils go to Arsenal, who have fallen nine points behind after a dramatic slump in form.

With relegation-threatened Blackburn and Blackpool to close the season, it is widely assumed if United are to relinquish their grip on a record 19th championship, it has to come now.

Ferguson does not see it the same way. “There is still drama ahead,” he said.

“The teams at the top will drop points, including Chelsea.

“Two months ago everyone was looking at these two games as league deciders. They probably are now.

“But if we get to the last home game needing to win it to win the league, I would be happy with that.”

Ferguson certainly does not buy into the theory that now is the time when United's nerves will start to show and their rivals will take advantage.

He accepts his side are facing two intensely tough games but cannot work out why anyone believes they will be easier for the teams they are playing.

“The slant I seemed to be getting is that Arsenal and Chelsea are expecting to win these games and change the top of the league,” he said.

“Why can't we win these matches? Surely, given the form we are in, we can.

“It is not going to be any easier for Arsenal or Chelsea than it is for us. These are difficult games.”

Nevertheless, Ferguson is aware that avoiding defeat at the Emirates Stadium will ensure Chelsea cannot travel north with the additional incentive of knowing United can be caught.

“A point away from home at Arsenal is not the worst point - but that is not what we are going down there looking for,” he said.

Confidence at United's Carrington training base has been soaring since Tuesday's outstanding Champions League performance against Schalke.

Only an unthinkable three-goal home defeat next week can deny the Red Devils a place in the final, where they are almost certain to meet Barcelona.

By then, Ferguson expects to have Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher available following his reserve team appearance last night, in addition to top scorer Dimitar Berbatov, who has recovered from a minor groin strain.

The 22-goal Bulgarian has been reduced to the role of bit-part player though, following the startling performances of new-boy Javier Hernandez, whose partnership with Wayne Rooney is developing virtually by the game.

“Wayne's form has been fantastic,” said Ferguson. “He and Javier have been a revelation in the last few weeks. It has given us all great hope.”

Already, United have got far closer to the major honours than anyone imagined mid-season when, as Patrice Evra pointed out earlier in the week, many were proclaiming it 'the end of an empire'.

That they have subsequently achieved so much is, according to many, down to sheer belligerence and a simple refusal to be beaten, an attitude that comes from the manager himself.

“It's a natural thing that the personality of a manager is the most important thing at a football club,” said Ferguson.

“That personality involves de

termination, your character and your philosophies.

“Personality is important for anyone that leads a unit, whether it's a football team or a business. You hope it can inspire the players to be better, to believe and to trust.

“These are the qualities that we are seeing in this team at the moment.”

On his players, he added: “You hope the longer they are here, it becomes a natural integration into where the club has been for the last 50 years.

“This club has a fantastic profile. It has a history and a good philosophy about the way to play the games.”

Belfast Telegraph


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