Ferguson eyes six-point gap
November 24, 2006 7:24pm CST
Ferguson eyes six-point gap Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side can strike a decisive blow in the Premiership title race by taking Jose Mourinho's Chelsea into uncharted territory when the two sides meet at Old Trafford on Sunday. After two seasons of almost complete dominance, the London club are trailing league leaders United and face the prospect of a six-point deficit if Ferguson's side secure a home victory this weekend. And having spent the last two years playing catch-up, the United manager is now looking forward to seeing how Chelsea cope with the role reversal. "Over the last two years Chelsea have been in a fantastic position of being nine or ten points ahead of us and that has been very difficult to peg back," Ferguson said. "We did our best last year in terms of coming on a late run but we weren't quick enough. But we have got out of the box this time and for the first time we are in front and we have the prospect of maybe going six points clear which will mean we have them chasing us rather than us chasing them." Ferguson's claims over the last two years that his side was a work in progress have been justified this season, Tuesday's Champions League defeat at Celtic notwithstanding. And the Scot's conviction that United can put clear water between themselves and the side he views as their only serious title rivals is based on a belief that for all Chelsea's activity in the transfer market, his own team has a spirit and togetherness that is now bearing fruit. "They've added three great players to their squad this year, Michael Ballack, Andrei Shevchenko and Ashley Cole," he added. "But although they maybe have a bit more experience internationally, we're an emerging side. "I said before their season that their main target will be the European Cup (Champions League) final and the buying of Shevchenko and Ballack strengthens that view and I'm sure that's very much in Jose's mind. "I think we have a great consistency to our game at the moment and you don't get that from young players normally so they are showing great maturity. And there is a fantastic team spirit there and that has helped more than anything. "But we have got to get ourselves in the position of being six points clear before we start thinking about what their reaction will be. The one thing we know for certain is that they'll be our main challengers and we'll be their main challengers." The confrontation between English football's two dominant powers was given an added edge this week when Peter Kenyon, the former United chief executive who defected to take up a similar role at Chelsea, claimed the Londoners were on track to challenge United's position as one of the world's biggest clubs. Ferguson, though, dismissed the suggestion, and said: "It's a nice time to bring it out. We're going to quake and tremble about that. I certainly don't let it bother me. I know Peter. "It's difficult to know how to judge which is the biggest club in the world but I can only go on my own experience and everywhere we go around the world there seems to be a mass of people surrounding the players and wearing United strips." Ferguson will stick largely with the same side that lost at Celtic although he refused to confirm whether Louis Saha would retain his place after missing the penalty that would have secured a place in the Champions League knock-out stages. "When you lose a game of football, you usually have some issues to address in the dressing room about how you have lost the game," Ferguson added. "But I had no issues with that because I thought we played well. The only thing was they forgot they were playing a match and thought they were playing a game. And it doesn't matter if you lose a game. "If you are playing someone at the top of the league there is a significance and that doesn't change no matter who your opponents are. That's never going to change."