Ferguson's will to win the spark - Ferdinand
Published 01/02/2011 | 05:00
Rio Ferdinand claims Alex Ferguson's will to win has put Manchester United on the brink of emulating the club's famous Treble winners.
United will stretch their unbeaten run in the Premier League to a club record-equalling 29 games if they avoid defeat against Aston Villa tonight.
Undefeated in the league since losing to Chelsea at Old Trafford last April, Ferguson's team will match the run between December 1998 to October 1999 if they take a point or more against Gerard Houllier's resurgent Villa.
During the record-breaking run in the 90s, United won 20 and drew nine games before Chelsea thumped them 5-0 at Stamford Bridge.
United have won 18 and drawn 10 of their league fixtures this time around, but their ability to rescue seemingly lost causes with fightbacks at Villa and Blackpool has been the standout feature.
Against both Villa and Blackpool, United overturned a 2-0 deficit late in the game and Ferdinand, who has declared himself fit to return tonight after missing the last three games in all competitions, insists that the determination to sustain the unbeaten run comes directly from Ferguson.
"You never lose faith when you play for Manchester United," Ferdinand said." It's in our make-up that the game is not over until the final whistle has blown and, until then, you try your hardest.
"It comes from the manager because the manager has got that desire and will to win. He has been here for almost 25 years and if he's still got it, then why haven't players that have only been here for a year, two years, 10 years, whatever?
"It comes from him and filters down through the club and that's always the way it has been.
"That's why you see, so often, that we can come back from adverse situations and create results like we did against Blackpool.
"If you do that week in, week out you get a bit of luck and you get your rewards.
"We've done it all season, gone goals behind and come back. We did it at Villa when we were 2-0 down and got a draw.
"During the Blackpool game last week, I've never had so many tweets in my life!
"People tweeting and saying 'you're this, you're that, you're finished.' But we showed otherwise."
United are now 11/1 with bookmakers to emulate Arsenal's Invincibles of 2003-04 by remaining unbeaten in the league for the rest of the season.
Leading goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov claims that confidence is growing within the squad that they can rise to the challenge.
"I remember Arsenal winning the title without losing a game and it was a tremendous run," Berbatov said.
"But I'm confident we can do it too. We know we have some difficult away matches, but I believe we're capable of finishing without a single defeat."
Ferguson is expected to restore his first-choice back four to the starting line-up against Villa after making wholesale changes for Saturday's FA Cup victory at Southampton.
But the United manager expects Villa, for whom £24m new signing Darren Bent scored on his debut against Manchester City last week, to provide a stern test of his team's unbeaten run.
"Whatever you say about Bent, he's certainly got a reasonable goal ratio at all his clubs," said Ferguson.
"He cost a lot of money but that will be justified if he gets them into a far better position.
"When you are down there in the Premier League it's not easy to get out of it, but two victories can make a difference and they are getting their squad back after injuries." (© Daily Telegraph, London)