Ferguson joy as United set to overtake Liverpool title haul

'It's fantastic' says manager after victory over Chelsea leaves his side needing point to win league

Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson last night expressed his disbelief that he finally stands on the brink of overhauling Liverpool's record 18 titles to become "the most successful team in the country in terms of championship victories".



Manchester United's 2-1 win over Chelsea leaves Ferguson needing only a point from his side's last two league matches and he disclosed that his players will this week begin working on how to overcome Barcelona in the Champions League final, with Carlo Ancelotti conceding that a 19th championship is heading to Old Trafford.

"It's fantastic being the most successful team," said Ferguson, whose side had only seven championships when he arrived in November, 1986. "As soon as that one [Ferguson's first] in 1992, the door opened to us. It is an incredible achievement."

He would "not have believed" overhauling Liverpool, he added. Ferguson admitted to some anxiety: "All those poor souls in the stands biting their nails and having a heart attack and I was one of them," he said, grinning, while remaining pragmatic ahead of the away trip to Blackburn on Saturday, with Blackpool at Old Trafford a week later: "You have to do your job."

But with Chelsea needing all three points, Ferguson knew from the moment of Javier Hernandez's goal after 37 seconds that he was on the way to the 12th title of nearly 25 years at the United helm.

The Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted last night that he retained some hope of staying at Stamford Bridge, despite the sense that the meeting he will have with chief executive Ron Gourlay after the end of the league campaign will be his last.

"You know my position. I have another year of contract. I would like to stay but the club will take a decision at the end of the season I accept the decision. We wait and see. We will arrange a meeting after the end of the season," he said.

Ferguson railed against refereeing decisions until the end, with Frank Lampard's apparent handball from Antonio Valencia's 53rd-minute cross prompting one of a number of penalty appeals he thought should have been awarded to United.

"There were clear penalties kicks," Ferguson said. "If we were going to get the title we didn't need referees to get us there."

But United can count themselves fortunate that Wayne Rooney was not dismissed at the end of the first half for making a V-sign at Chelsea fans who verbally abused him after he went down to Branislav Ivanovic's tackle.

Rooney had been booked after a collision with David Luiz minutes earlier and the response to supporters could have constituted a second offence. Referee Howard Webb did not appear to see Rooney's gesture and the Football Association is expected to view footage of it if the official does make it part of his report into the game.

Ferguson's reflection on a title race he feels has been "finalised" by yesterday's result, included his observation that Chelsea and Arsenal have become United's prime title competitors. "For the last 17 or 18 years it's been [those two] and we have had to look to them as the main challengers," he said.

But Liverpool are the side whose record he has always wanted to reel in. Ever since Bob Paisley's side defeated his Aberdeen team in 1980 he has seen their record as the one to beat. Although yesterday's display was not vintage, Ancelotti (above) acknowledged United had been the better side over the course of the season.

"Manchester United played better than us and deserved to win this game; they deserved to win the title," he said.

"We have another two games, we want to attain second place in the table and finish the season well. I am honest to say that Chelsea didn't do its best this season but sometimes it can happen. Last year [when Chelsea won the Double] was a fantastic season. This year was a bit different. I don't know [why] really. I don't know this. I don't known what the owners think about the season. My opinion is we could do better. But we need more time to explain how we can do better."

Ryan Giggs, United's supreme player again, said: "Mathematically, it's not finished. We will try to get it done as soon as possible. Blackburn is a tough place to go but I'm sure we will have a lot of fans going for that won."

Giggs was equally incredulous that he, too, should be on the brink of a 12th title and surpass Liverpool. "It's a great achievement by the team and manager to haul back his rivals from the 70s, 80s and 90s. To do that would be special."

The omission of Patrice Evra, with a thigh injury, and Darren Fletcher, who is still getting back to full fitness after a virus, create anxiety for United, as neither is a player Ferguson will want to be without against Barcelona in the Champions League final.

 



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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?