Ri­val man­agers step up Pre­mier League mind games

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER United man­ager Sir Alex Fer­gu­son and Chelsea coun­ter­part Jose Mour­inho stepped up their war of words yes­ter­day, each in­sist­ing their side h a s c o n t r o l o f t h e i r Premiership des­tiny.

United are four points clear af­ter a 3-1 Box­ing Day win against Wi­gan, fol­lowed by sec­ond-placed reign­ing cham­pi­ons Chelsea who dropped points in a sur­prise 2-2 drawat home to Read­ing.

But, in what he ex­pects to be a tight race, Fer­gu­son be­lieves goal dif­fer­ence could play a key role in de­cid­ing this sea­son’s ti­tle.

Such has been United’s at­tack­ing form this sea­son that, even were Chelsea to drawlevel on points, they would in all like­li­hood still be be­hind the lead­ers.

Fer­gu­son’s men have a huge goal-dif­fer­ence ad­van­tage of 13 over Chelsea who have scored 35 league goals so far this sea­son com­pared to United’s 44.

Not since 1989 has the English ti­tle race been de­cided on goal dif­fer­ence when Arse­nal’s dra­matic win away to Liver­pool on the fi­nal day of the sea­son saw them climb above the Merseysiders.

‘‘The goal dif­fer­ence helps us, there is no doubt about that,’’ Fer­gu­son said.

‘‘I have al­ways be­lieved in those terms, 10 or 12 goals makes a point. If it re­mains that way it is some­thing we have to fall back on. Hope­fully we won’t have to, but it is there any­way.’’

Mour­inho, mean­while, in­sisted United’s lead was ‘no drama’ for his side.

For nowthe Por­tuguese coach is just happy to keep in touch with United as they con­tinue the busy hol­i­day pro­gram with­out the in­jured quar­tet of Petr Cech, John Terry, Joe Cole and Ar­jen Robben.

‘‘Right now, we are sur­viv­ing be­cause the dis­tance to Manch­ester United is four points and that is not a drama,’’ Mour­inho said.

‘‘I keep say­ing three points can be solved when we play United. But we are in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, al­though I think we can sur­vive.

‘‘We’re in the (last) 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League, semi-fi­nals of the Car­ling (League) Cup, we start the FA Cup next month and in the Premiership we are four points be­hind the lead­ers with 18 matches to play.

‘‘On top of that, Manch­ester United must come to Stam­ford Bridge. I think the sit­u­a­tion is OK.’’

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