Fergie hopes to get tim­ing just right

Daily Express - - FOOTBALL: BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Richard Tan­ner

IT WAS fit­ting that Manch­ester United should sign a spon­sor­ship deal with a Swiss watch­maker yes­ter­day as Sir Alex Fer­gu­son talked of the pre­ci­sion tim­ing of their ti­tle bid.

A renowned stick­ler for time­keep­ing, Fer­gu­son ad­mits United must steel them­selves to play a pa­tient, sea­son­long game of catch-up in the cham­pi­onship race.

But he does not care if his team go through the en­tire cam­paign without top­ping the ta­ble pro­vid­ing they fin­ish, like clock­work, in pole po­si­tion on May 24 to com­plete a hat-trick of cham­pi­onships.

United are eight points be­hind Liver­pool with a home game in hand against Ful­ham. But they have had to post­pone a sec­ond home game, against Wi­gan on De­cem­ber 20, when they will be in Tokyo for the FIFA World Club Cham­pi­onship.

That means they could be go­ing into the new year with a dou­ble­fig­ure points mar­gin to make up. But Fer­gu­son in­sists he has the depth and qual­ity in his squad to last the marathon and reel in the leaders.

“It’s go­ing to be one of those sea­sons when we have to be pre­pared for not be­ing top for quite a while,” he said on the day United struck a £10mil­lion, three-year part­ner­ship deal with watch­mak­ers Hublot. “But that’s not a prob­lem for me. Ab­so­lutely no prob­lem.

“There will be cer­tain ob­sta­cles in our way this sea­son, notably the two games we have to make up, but we’ve got the squad and the abil­ity to get back among the teams in front of us.

“We have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in our squad. We’ve added Dim­i­tar Ber­ba­tov which should give us even more op­por­tu­ni­ties to make sure we’re able to change and stay fresh.”

In 2006-07 United hit the top of the ta­ble in early Oc­to­ber and stayed there to the end. Last sea­son they were never out of the top two from mid-Septem­ber, even­tu­ally over­haul­ing stut­ter­ing long-time leaders Arse­nal in mid-March. But this sea­son they are en­ter­ing Novem­ber yet to break into the top four thanks to a slug­gish start. And with dates for their two post­poned games yet to be found they are fac­ing a long pur­suit, un­less Liver­pool and Chelsea stum­ble.

Fer­gu­son, how­ever, is un­fazed and will draw on his ex­pe­ri­ence of 10 Premier League ti­tles, some won by com­ing from be­hind, oth­ers won from the front.

“Con­ti­nu­ity and con­sis­tency of per­for­mance will be very im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly up to Jan­uary,” he said. “If we can get to Jan­uary and we’re still in touch near the top, par­tic­u­larly with th­ese games we have to make up and hav­ing to go to Ja­pan, then we have a great chance.

“If you look at our fix­tures we will have played away to all the top eight or nine teams from last sea­son be­fore Christ­mas. We’ve al­ready played Portsmouth, Liver­pool, Chelsea, Black­burn and Ever­ton away and have Arse­nal, Manch­ester City, Tot­ten­ham com­ing up. That means we’ve got all of them at Old Traf­ford in the sec­ond half of the sea­son.”

The 2-0 win over West Ham means United are now un­beaten in their past 10 games in all com­pe­ti­tions with Fer­gu­son adding: “We are in good form at the mo­ment, pick­ing up all the time af­ter a slow open­ing to the sea­son, which I have to say did not sur­prise me be­cause I knew there were rea­sons why we were not op­er­at­ing on full throt­tle.

“Af­ter what we ex­pe­ri­enced last sea­son, go­ing flat out to the end to win two tro­phies, there was in­evitably a lot of ex­haus­tion, with most play­ers car­ry­ing knocks and need­ing re­pair jobs. And that was apart from the ob­vi­ously in­jured play­ers who needed op­er­a­tions like Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Ji-Sung Park.”

FER­GU­SON: Play­ing catch-up

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.