Saturday 21 April 2018

Ferguson shifts focus to next season's battle

Duncan White and Graham Chase

Alex Ferguson has admitted "the odds are stacked against" his Manchester United side in today's decisive final fixtures but warned Manchester City that, no matter what happens, he will be coming back stronger next term.

"I'll be fine next season," he said. "We're not going away and I'm not either. You'd better let them know across the road."

City and United go into today's games level on 86 points but with City leading by eight on goal difference. They only have to beat QPR to win their first title in 44 years. United, who face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, have to hope City slip up.

For ambitious City, a title victory would give them ascendancy in Manchester. "We just accept it as a challenge," said Ferguson. "We've done that well over the years and we'll just do exactly the same. This isn't a club that's afraid of that. We've always been able to accept that and it's a challenge for me too. I don't mind a challenge."

Ferguson turns 71 this year but said that City's rise had given him the motivation to keep going. Asked if he still had the desire to face a new challenge he said: "Definitely, absolutely. It's taken three years off me and I'm feeling younger already!" It will be a nervous day for City fans, who have seen their side battle back from an eight-point deficit into pole position. QPR effectively need a draw to preserve their Premier League status and are managed by Mark Hughes, who was sacked by City in December 2009, so there will be plenty of motivation for City's opponents.

Roberto Mancini warned that the occasion will be as much of a challenge as the game. "Yes, I am confident we will win but because it is the last game it will be more difficult," he said. "It's important we do it because we worked hard for two years for this, to try to win the title, and now we have this chance.

"If we win they'll have changed history here after too many years. There will be a part of history in English football for this club."

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