Alex Ferguson 'expects' a treble push from Manchester United

United play Reading in the FA Cup tonight, whilst being firm favourites for the Premier League with hopes of Champions League progression

Sir Alex Ferguson harbours hopes of repeating the success of 1999, and winning another historic treble.

His Manchester United side are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League, and face Real Madrid next month in the second leg of the Champions League last-16, having taken an impressive 1-1 draw from the Bernabeu.

Tonight Reading head to Old Trafford in the FA Cup, with the prize a quarter-final tie against Chelsea or Middlesbrough.

While Ferguson insists publicly on taking one game at a time, defender Chris Smalling says the prospect of lifting all three trophies is on the manager's mind.

He said: "The manager has stressed that he expects to go to the end in all three competitions."

"The FA Cup is notoriously unpredictable. Luton reached the fifth round this year, which shows that anything can happen so there is no point looking too far ahead.

"But our home form has been good and another victory can give us the impetus to kick on and get to another final."

Last week Ferguson himself told journalists that the squad he can pick from now is stronger than the class on '99, which so memorably clinched the treble in injury time of the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

United's last FA Cup final appearance was in 2007, when they lost to Chelsea in injury time.

Though the Red Devils have won the the world's oldest cup competition a record 11 times, they haven't won since beating Millwall at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in 2004- something which surprised Smalling, who was only 14 years old when Roy Keane lifted the trophy that day.

"I was quite shocked at how long it has been since United won the FA Cup," he said.

"It is a massive competition and one we all look forward to.

"Before we played West Ham in the third round, the manager stressed how much we wanted to win this tournament.

"There are quite a lot of lads who haven't won it despite being here for quite a while."

Ferguson has never forgotten how his side dominated Arsenal in 2005 but still got beaten in a penalty shoot-out, whilst Wembley appearances in semi-finals against Everton in 2009 and Manchester City two years later both ended in defeat.

As well as Smalling, 14-goal striker Javier Hernandez is a likely starter tonight.

Wide-men Ashley Young and Nani will also hope to be involved, whilst Tom Cleverley and Anderson should be chomping at the bit after also missing out on a starting berth at the Bernabeu.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links