Ferguson ready to scale another mountain in pursuit of Manchester City

 

The sound of Sir Alex Ferguson singing is generally an indication that all is well in Manchester United's world, and although "Climb Every Mountain" is not known to be in his repertoire, it should nudge aside Frank Sinatra once in a while.

Preparing for this afternoon's match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the subsequent pursuit of Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League, United's manager came up with a rather apposite metaphor based on mountain climbing.

"I've climbed Ben Donich [2,776ft] in Scotland and when you get up there it's so fantastic," he said, "but the only problem you've got is that you have to come down."

Twice in his extraordinarily successful period in charge United have managed to stay on top admiring the view for three years running, and from the middle of the past decade onwards Chelsea have been their main challengers. These have been the top two clubs for five of the past six seasons, Liverpool being the only intruders when splitting the pair as United won the title three years ago.

However, this season Manchester City seem certain to ensure there will be no further one-two from the old firm.

"We won our first title in 1993 and 20 years on we're still battling there and we've only been out of the top two once or twice," Ferguson said. "We had that 10 years with Arsenal when every year it was between us and them and they were tough. When Chelsea came, they got off to such great starts under [Jose] Mourinho that we found it very difficult to catch them. It's not easy. It's a tough league and we're finding that this season with City. They've improved a lot and they're still favourites to win the League but if we can get through these away games then we've got a great chance."

After Chelsea, the next away game is actually at Ajax, but it is safe to say the Europa League is not occupying too many of the manager's thoughts. After a potentially volatile home fixture against their FA Cup conquerors, Liverpool, he will be more concerned with going to Norwich and then, critically, a Tottenham side who nevertheless face a tricky game of their own at Anfield tomorrow night, which they could start eight points behind United.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are breaking the mountaineers' code and looking down, where they find Newcastle, Liverpool and Arsenal in pursuit. Andre Villas-Boas may promise with a smile, as he did on Friday, "I don't think we'll finish below fourth," but they are currently in no position to end up any higher.

Although, as he admitted, this was never intended to be a transitional season, that is how it is turning out.

"Villas-Boas is playing a different way," Ferguson noted, "and when we played them earlier in the season they were far more fluid. He's brought in a couple of players who have made a difference in Ramires and [Juan] Mata and he's given [Daniel] Sturridge a chance and he's repaid him."

Then, of course, there is Fernando Torres, who scored against United at Old Trafford in September's 3-1 defeat, a scoreline that would have been closer had he not later committed one of the misses of the season.

"We're not just looking for Fernando the goalscorer, we're looking for Fernando the player to reach the level of performance he had against Sunderland," Villas-Boas said. "I think a goal will trigger it all but we have to wait and see.

"There is a new way of playing of Chelsea where you have more of the ball and less spaces in behind. This changes the nature of a player's movement and requires certain adaptation, and that's what we're trying to get."

Chelsea v Manchester United is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution