Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson backs Newcastle to upset Manchester City's title bid
AFTER watching Newcastle so impressively beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Newcastle can provide a stern test of City's title ambitions at the Sports Direct Areana on Sunday.
United and City are currently tied on points at the top of the table with the latter edging their rivals on goal difference.
United host Swansea in the late kick-off on Sunday by whch time Ferguson and his squad will know the result of their rival's away trip. And with Newcastle beating Chelsea in a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge last night in such emphatic fashion, and moreover the fact they are fighting for a Champions League spot, Ferguson is confident Alan Pardew's side could cause further upset.
"By the time we kick off we'll know what we'll need to do," Ferguson said. "Newcastle are fighting for that position in the top four. They have a chance. It's an exciting end to the season.
"They have got to win at Newcastle. That is the challenge for them. Newcastle is a very difficult place and they are playing well.
"As everyone knows, winning at Chelsea is very difficult. We have not done it for eight years. Their form is good and it will be a difficult game
"We'll be aware of the game going on before ours. You can't avoid it. We still have to prepare for our game, though. We won't neglect our preparation for our game."
Meanwhile, following Roy Hodgson's appointment as the new England manager, Ferguson has backed Rio Ferdinand for Euro 2012 selection.
Hodgson intends to speak with Ferdinand to see whether he would be able to play alongside long-time central defensive partner John Terry in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
The early indications are that Ferdinand would accept. However, as the 33-year-old has not featured for his country since the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland last June, there is some doubt as to whether the United defender would have been picked under previous coach Fabio Capello.
Ferguson acknowledges Ferdinand has not often been asked to play more than one game a week this term.
However, long-standing back problems appear to have been overcome enough for the former West Ham star to feature regularly once more.
And both his form and experience lead Ferguson to conclude Ferdinand would be a valuable member of Hodgson's squad.
"He has done fantastic this season," said Ferguson. "There was a period where I played him in three games in seven days from the end of January but apart from that it has been every seven days.
"He has coped very well and has had a fantastic season.
"I don't know if Roy's thinking about the situation because I haven't spoken to him but experience is going to be important in the European Championships.
"I think Phil Jones and Chris Smalling should go but they have not played a lot of football this season in terms of centre-back play, so you go back to what you are left with.
"You have John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and Gary Cahill. Then you have Jones and Smalling.
"There is not a lot after that."