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Fergie unfazed by Mourinho's predictions

Alex Ferguson

By Simon Stone
ALEX FERGUSON is refusing to get steamed up at Jose Mourinho's bold declaration that Chelsea will wrap up the title before Easter.

Chelsea's defeat of Liverpool last weekend re-established their 15-point advantage over Manchester United and left Mourinho just eight wins away from emulating Ferguson's achievement of landing back-to-back Premiership crowns.

The confident Blues coach has identified the Stamford Bridge encounter with West Ham on April 9 as the day Chelsea's second successive championship will be confirmed.

Although Ferguson will ensure his team push the Londoners as hard as they can, even he knows it would take a catastrophic collapse to give United any realistic chance of overhauling the runaway leaders.

But while he can accept Mourinho's remarks with a smile, he has warned the 42-year-old one day the equation is likely to change.

"Jose quite enjoys toying with people," said Ferguson.

"It is in his nature. But we are getting used to it and have come to realise some of it is tongue-in-cheek.

"Given the consistency his team are showing, April 9 is certainly possible. But as long as you have some games to play, anything else is possible as well.

"We should not be shouting from the rooftops about what he is saying. But maybe, some day his turn will come too."

Ferguson's main short-term aim is to see United end their Fratton Park hoodoo today by recording a first Barclays Premiership away win in almost two months.

Twice in as many seasons, the Red Devils have made the long trip down to the south coast only to return deflated by defeats towards which their own missed chances have contributed.

After watching United find the net 10 times in their past three games, Ferguson is confident no such problem will occur this time around - especially because his side are not as reliant on Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney as they were earlier in the campaign.

"We have far more of a goal threat from different positions now," he said.

"There are 13 different goalscorers now, which is a big change from the start of the season when the onus was on Wayne and Ruud to score.

"Louis Saha, in particular, has been sensational with nine goals in 12 games - and the added balance among the goalscorers can only help everyone."

After slogging their way through 19 games in a congested 65-day period, United have enjoyed the luxury of being allowed a full week to prepare for today's televised encounter.

With Ryan Giggs back from recent hamstring trouble and Rio Ferdinand available after suspension, Ferguson is expected to make at least two changes to the side which beat Fulham last weekend.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo seems certain to keep his spot after he capped an excellent all-round display against the Cottagers with a fine two-goal haul.

The effort represented a rare moment of triumph in an otherwise difficult campaign for the young winger, who has been beset by off-field problems and was sent off in the Manchester derby defeat at Eastlands last month.

 

Fergie unfazed by Mourinho's predictions

Alex Ferguson

By Simon Stone
ALEX FERGUSON is refusing to get steamed up at Jose Mourinho's bold declaration that Chelsea will wrap up the title before Easter.

Chelsea's defeat of Liverpool last weekend re-established their 15-point advantage over Manchester United and left Mourinho just eight wins away from emulating Ferguson's achievement of landing back-to-back Premiership crowns.

The confident Blues coach has identified the Stamford Bridge encounter with West Ham on April 9 as the day Chelsea's second successive championship will be confirmed.

Although Ferguson will ensure his team push the Londoners as hard as they can, even he knows it would take a catastrophic collapse to give United any realistic chance of overhauling the runaway leaders.

But while he can accept Mourinho's remarks with a smile, he has warned the 42-year-old one day the equation is likely to change.

"Jose quite enjoys toying with people," said Ferguson.

"It is in his nature. But we are getting used to it and have come to realise some of it is tongue-in-cheek.

"Given the consistency his team are showing, April 9 is certainly possible. But as long as you have some games to play, anything else is possible as well.

"We should not be shouting from the rooftops about what he is saying. But maybe, some day his turn will come too."

Ferguson's main short-term aim is to see United end their Fratton Park hoodoo today by recording a first Barclays Premiership away win in almost two months.

Twice in as many seasons, the Red Devils have made the long trip down to the south coast only to return deflated by defeats towards which their own missed chances have contributed.

After watching United find the net 10 times in their past three games, Ferguson is confident no such problem will occur this time around - especially because his side are not as reliant on Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney as they were earlier in the campaign.

"We have far more of a goal threat from different positions now," he said.

"There are 13 different goalscorers now, which is a big change from the start of the season when the onus was on Wayne and Ruud to score.

"Louis Saha, in particular, has been sensational with nine goals in 12 games - and the added balance among the goalscorers can only help everyone."

After slogging their way through 19 games in a congested 65-day period, United have enjoyed the luxury of being allowed a full week to prepare for today's televised encounter.

With Ryan Giggs back from recent hamstring trouble and Rio Ferdinand available after suspension, Ferguson is expected to make at least two changes to the side which beat Fulham last weekend.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo seems certain to keep his spot after he capped an excellent all-round display against the Cottagers with a fine two-goal haul.

The effort represented a rare moment of triumph in an otherwise difficult campaign for the young winger, who has been beset by off-field problems and was sent off in the Manchester derby defeat at Eastlands last month.