Manchester United will hold their nerve, says Sir Alex Ferguson


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned title rivals Manchester City that his team will not crack on the run-in.

After picking up just seven points from their last seven Barclays Premier League away games, City have now surrendered the initiative in the battle for domestic supremacy.

Even worse, the Blues are facing the prospect of slipping four points behind their fiercest rivals, who visit relegation-threatened Wolves at the weekend, before they can do something about it in what promises to be tough encounter with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on March 21.

As Roy Hodgson pointed out following West Brom's 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford yesterday, the Baggies dragged themselves out of the relegation zone and up to 11th with their form over the final 10 games last season, so all is not lost for City just yet.

Still, Ferguson took the opportunity to remind the Blues what they probably already knew; Manchester United are not going to fold.

"We have that experience and it does help," said the United boss.

"We won't get nervous.

"Against West Brom we kept playing our football even at 1-0 when the fans were thinking 'just get us a second'.

"It didn't concern the players one bit. It is good to see that kind of temperament."

It is the kind of attitude that is only built up through years of scrapping for major honours and United's significant advantage in a season when their squad has been decimated by injuries.

Nani and Anderson are the latest to succumb, although at least with the former, his present absence with an injury picked up on the training ground should not be long term.

Ferguson avoided a question about Anderson, which meant there was no opportunity to allay fears generated by rumours that the midfielder has picked up a hamstring problem that may, in a worst case scenario, end his season.

Yet the return of Tom Cleverley from his ankle injury means help is at hand, just as United have somehow kept a flow of goals from wider positions coming by having either Nani, Ashley Young or Antonio Valencia available even though Ferguson has rarely been able to choose from all three.

Valencia returns to training this week after picking up a hamstring injury nearly four weeks ago, whilst Young, who missed nearly two months with a knee injury, is starting to find top form again and was a clear man-of-the-match yesterday.

"It takes time to get your rhythm back and Ashley showed that in his two performances against Ajax last month," said Ferguson.

"But he did well against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday and he was excellent again against West Brom."

United's newly-gained league status should sharpen minds ahead of this week's return encounter with Bilbao.

While Ferguson would never merely give a game up, he is highly unlikely to ask his first-choice XI to turn around a tie they should really have no chance in anyway such was the brilliance of the Basque outfit at Old Trafford.

Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand are unlikely to be risked and it would be no surprise if Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney were on the bench as Ferguson attempts to keep key men fresh for the weekend trip to Molineux.

"He can go as far as he wants to," said Young of Rooney, whose season tally now stands at 26, just eight fewer than his best haul, and has been challenged to hit 40 by his manager.

"He has done brilliantly this season. Hopefully he keeps adding to his tally and we can keep getting the three points."

As City have stuttered, so United have come flying through a sequence of fixtures many felt would signal the end of their challenge.

But victories over Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, in addition to a three-goal comeback that clinched a point at Chelsea, has turned them into favourites.

"We felt if we came through those tough away fixtures we would be setting ourselves up for the rest of the season," said Young.

"We have managed to do that and now our home form is key.

"A lot of people might not have thought we would be in front of City but we have that belief.

"As long as we are winning our games, the pressure is on them."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities