Alex Ferguson refuses to be drawn in by Roberto Mancini comments

Manchester United lead City by 12 points in the Premier League

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is determined not to fall for Manchester City's title kidology.

As they attempt to close a 12-point gap that could have widened to 15 before they face Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, City have been keen to talk up the potential for Manchester United to drop points over the final 12 games.

Their hope is sustained by the knowledge United blew an eight-point advantage in the space of just six matches last term and Roberto Mancini is confident it may happen again.

But Ferguson is not getting drawn in.

Whilst he accepts the certainty his own side will make the odd stumble as they head towards the finishing line, he is equally steadfast in his belief City will falter too.

"They are going on about us dropping points - but I would say the same thing to be honest," said Ferguson.

"The fact of the matter is they will drop points too. It is unavoidable.

"Teams drop points. It is a tough league. It is not easy winning all your games.

"At the moment we have a good momentum. The only thing we can do is try to win our next match and see where it takes us."

Yet there is already half an eye turning towards that crucial Champions League second-leg encounter with Real Madrid, for which Ferguson has confirmed Phil Jones has only an "outside chance" of being fit for after he injured an ankle in Monday's FA Cup win over Reading.

Jones suffered the problem in a crunching tackle with Jobi McAnuff, the execution of which has been criticised by Bryan Robson, amongst others.

It is not the first time Jones' technique has been questioned.

However, as Ferguson sees elements of Robson's own play in Jones' game, he sees little point trying to change the approach.

"He tackled awkwardly," said Ferguson.

"It is the tackle of a young man. He was going in too bravely. He was unbalanced and ended up with a sore one.

"But you can't measure a person by a tackle.

"He has the courage and willingness to tackle. Bryan Robson was exactly the same.

"Bryan couldn't see danger and neither can Phil.

"That is a lot to do with the courage they have. You are not going to take that out of them. I wouldn't even attempt that."

Nevertheless, Jones is now a major doubt for that return meeting with Madrid, having done so much to subdue Cristiano Ronaldo in particular during last Wednesday's encounter at the Bernabeu.

"He did an incredible job against Real Madrid," said Ferguson.

"The great thing Phil has got is that he doesn't care who he is playing against.

"There is no fear about playing against anyone.

"We will have to wait and see. It is two weeks away and a lot can happen in that time.

"He has an outside chance, but no more than that."

Jones will certainly miss the QPR encounter and Wayne Rooney is also likely to be absent after sitting out the Reading victory with a sinus problem.

PA

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