Tuesday 12 December 2017

Fergie: Title still three-horse race

Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for Saturday's game against Blackburn. Photo: PA
Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for Saturday's game against Blackburn. Photo: PA

Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United still have "a great chance" of retaining the Premier League title, even though he concedes the advantage lies with Chelsea.

As Carlo Ancelotti's men are on FA Cup semi-final duty at Wembley tomorrow, United will return to the top of the table if they can end a desperate week by beating Blackburn at Ewood Park on Sunday.

They must try and do so without Wayne Rooney, who has been ruled out by the ankle injury he aggravated against Bayern Munich in midweek, and with confidence on the floor following their away-goals exit in the Champions League.

That setback came just four days after the home defeat by Chelsea which saw the Red Devils surrender pole position and leave them outsiders to clinch an unprecedented fourth successive title.

After some personal joy at Aintree with his horse What a Friend yesterday, Ferguson has been able to raise a smile.

Now he is looking to transfer that feel-good factor back to his players ahead of the Blackburn clash.

"Five wins would give us a great chance," said Ferguson.

"Chelsea will be thinking five wins gets them the title and, at a crucial time of the season, the advantage is with them.

"But we hope that something can happen.

"You would rather be in Chelsea's position but we have a chance of winning the league, and so have Arsenal, who are a point behind us."

The absence of Rooney seemed likely the moment he limped out of the Bayern game following the second-half dismissal of full-back Rafael.

Yet Ferguson insists the problem is not long-term and should have his 34-goal forward fit for next weekend's Manchester derby at Eastlands.

"We won't have Wayne for Sunday," confirmed Ferguson.

"It is nothing serious, as we said the first time he got the injury.

"I think he will be ready for the Manchester City game because we have more time to work on it."

Ferguson is expected to make further changes given the energy United expended on Wednesday, with Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs all set to be included, along with John O'Shea, who was introduced as a substitute in midweek, his first appearance since November.

Press Association

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