Last-day drama holds no fear for United, says Ferguson

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has held up his side's ability to win titles on the last day of the season as evidence of the temperament that can win a challenging fixture at Middlesbrough today en route to an 18th championship.

"Over the years we have three or four times needed to win our last game and won it on every occasion," the Manchester United manager said. "So it tells you something about the quality of people we have had over the years that we can go to the last game and have .... the courage to play under these circumstances"

United's record is not quite as immaculate as he suggests. Their 1-1 draw at West Ham in May 1995 – a match Ferguson often recalls – allowed Blackburn to take the title, though on three occasions since, including a 3-0 win at Boro in 1996, United have seen things through. That Ferguson should be discussing the visit to Hull on 24 May illustrates that their tricky run-in makes the title anything but a formality.

Ferguson confirmed yesterday that Rio Ferdinand has only bruising to his ribs and may be fit for the Champions League semi final second leg at Arsenal on Tuesday. "I think we have a chance of getting him ready," he said. "No cracks, nothing broken and hopefully the procedure he's going through at moment will get him there."

That means a recall today for Jonny Evans, whose halo dropped amid United's defensive blip in March. Ferguson insisted the young centre-half is up to the challenge. "His record so far has been outstanding. He has played against Chelsea twice this season, he's played four European ties. And that is good preparation for tomorrow and for Tuesday if he is needed."

Ferguson may also call on Paul Scholes, Nani and Ben Foster as he rests players for the game at the Emirates Stadium. He added he was "disappointed to be asked" about the uncertainty surrounding Carlos Tevez, who in another interview published in Argentina was quoted as saying: "I don't know what will happen for my future. I would like to go to Spain, yes, but I don't know yet. I have no preference for a team. We'll see."