Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson: Liverpool Are Manchester United's Title Rivals

Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't think that Chelsea will provide any major threat to Manchester United's drive for the Premier League title this season. Instead, he is viewing Rafa Bentiez's Liverpool as the main threat to his domestic ambitions.

"At this moment in time, Liverpool are our main challengers and our greatest threat," the Scotsman told The Manchester Evening News today.

Guus Hiddink has been appointed as temporary manager at Chelsea, but Ferguson clearly sees that making negligible difference to a title race his men currently lead by two points form Liverpool, having played a game less.

The gap to Aston Villa in third place is five points, with Chelsea a further two points behind them, and Ferguson clearly views this as an insurmountable gap for the Londoners. Aston Villa remain something of an unknown quantity, whose lack of experience might tell in the run-in.

Ferguson has identified the period when United returned from Japan with the World Club Championship as key to the progress that they have subsequently made in climbing to the top of the table.

"We went to Stoke [December 26] and it was a lively pitch and we had just got back from Japan. But we scraped a result because we never gave in," the Scot added.

"We ended up with Ryan Giggs at left-back because we wanted to win the match. It was an important marker to lay down after coming back from Japan. We needed to win that game. Once we won that we have just gone on.

"Then I looked upon the West Ham match as our hardest away game in the run in. They had been playing their best football of the season and it is a tough place to go to.

"We had to play them at a great moment for them in terms of confidence and form so it was always going to be a big task for us. But the players delivered. We didn't lose our composure or nerve to play. The players know how to handle pressure."

United can increase the gap between themselves and the rest at the top of table this evening, when they entertain Fulham at Old Trafford.

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