Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester City will have taken a huge stride forward if they manage to complete their Premier League title quest tomorrow.
Although Ferguson refuses to give up all hope, even he concedes it would take something stupid for his Manchester United side to secure top spot now.
If City beat QPR at the Etihad Stadium, it would complete an achievement worth recognising for Blues boss Roberto Mancini, one that even Ferguson accepts goes far beyond merely assembling a squad at vast cost.
“To win the league is not easy,” said Ferguson. “Many people underestimate how difficult it is to win the league. Of course, Roberto Mancini has had a big financial advantage over everyone but you have still got to put a team on the pitch and pick the right players.
“The manager must take the most credit if you win the league over here because when you have squads of players trying to orchestrate the harmony in the place is very important.
“Making everyone feel they have played their part is not easy in the modern game. To win the league is a massive step forward for Mancini.”
The City boss clearly has not managed to maintain stability all season as the erratic behaviour of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez prove.
None of that matters now, though, with just one game to negotiate and Ferguson crossing his fingers that United old-boy and former City boss Mark Hughes can do him a favour as his QPR side fight for their Premier League futures.
“Probably most of the players will be put on the transfer list,” said Ferguson of QPR‘s possible relegation.
“A lot of their salaries will be halved from what I can gather. It is a dramatic thing for QPR. They have invested a bit of money and it could a big effect on the players and club. It is a last-game-of-the-season thriller.
“It is fantastic for the neutral and agony for both clubs. I expect Manchester City to win. But as long as human beings are what they are, you never know. You just hope something stupid happens.”
QPR, who conceded six at Chelsea a fortnight ago and have collected just two points from their last 12 Premier League away games, have little chance of becoming only the second team to deny City a home win this season.
Yet Ferguson feels parallels can be drawn between their task, and the one his own Aberdeen side faced exactly 29 years ago, when they took on Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.
“That is QPR’s challenge – to do an Aberdeen,” he said. “Of course, the odds are stacked against them. City are in good form and they are at home.
“But it will not be easy for City. The pressure on them will be enormous. The disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable.”