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
  • @James_Legge

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.