Fergie unfazed by five-point deficit
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