Fergie un­fazed by five-point deficit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SIR Alex Fer­gu­son yes­ter­day played down the sig­nif­i­cance of Chelsea’s five-point lead at the top of the Premier League and in­sisted that Manch­ester United are more than ca­pa­ble of over­turn­ing the ad­van­tage cur­rently en­joyed by their Lon­don ri­vals.

John Terry’s goal at Stam­ford Bridge just be­fore the in­ter na­tional break con­demned United to a third Premier League de­feat of the sea­son and means Fer­gu­son’s men sit in third spot be­hind Chelsea and Arse­nal. But ahead of to­day’s Old Traf­ford fix­ture with Ever­ton, Fer­gu­son was bullish about his side’s chances of claim­ing a fourth suc­ces­sive Premier League ti­tle.

“The dif­fer­ence is not in­sur­mount­able,” he said. “The Premier League has shown you time and time again, we our­selves threw a league away in, I think, 1997, so it hap­pens. You can come from be­hind and you can be in front and lose it too.

“It is a chal­lenge, but I think if you get to New Year’s Day a point or so in front or be­hind, with our ex­pe­ri­ence of big games in the run-in, then we have a great chance and that will help us.”

The in­ter­na­tional break has taken its toll on the United squad with John O’Shea and Jonny Evans both doubts for the Ever­ton match with thigh and calf in­juries re­spec­tively. Park Ji-Sung and Ne­manja Vidic may fea­ture against David Moyes’s men.

How­ever, Brazil­ian full-back Fabio has picked up a knock in train­ing while Gary Neville is still sus­pended af­ter his League Cup dis­missal against Barns­ley last month.

United’s med­i­cal staff, mean­while, are con­fi­dent they have fi­nally found the source of the back and calf prob­lems that have kept Eng­land de­fender Rio Fer­di­nand out of action since the 2-0 de­feat to Liver­pool on Oc­to­ber 25.

“We’ve iden­ti­fied the prob­lem and it is back-re­lated,” Fer­gu­son said. “It started off as a calf in­jury and it hap­pens quite a lot, that calf in­juries can be re­lated to lower back prob­lems. We’re not putting a time-scale on it but it’s not a sit­u­a­tion where we’re say­ing months,” he said. “It’ll prob­a­bly be two or three weeks and he’ll be back train­ing.

“We’ve got a lit­tle bit of patch­ing up to do in terms of get­ting a back four ready, but hope­fully, we can get a back four out that can get us through this dif­fi­cult game.”

Fer­gu­son also ad­mit­ted he is a re­lieved man now that the Premier League sea­son will not be in­ter­rupted by any more in­ter­na­tional breaks un­til a se­ries of friendlies in March.

“I think you will get some sort of con­sis­tency about the league now,” he said. “We are not wor­ry­ing about what play­ers are com­ing back and where they have been and ar­rang­ing flights. – Sapa-AFP

CON­FI­DENT: Sir Alex Fer­gu­son

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