Redknapp compares United to class of 99

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The Independent Football

The Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, believes his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson has created a squad which is close to matching the treble-winners of 1999.

United have played some scintillating football this season and in the free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo they have a player currently at the very top of his game.

Redknapp believes it is a mark of Ferguson's quality that he can continue to deliver teams capable of competing at the very highest level, typified by the famous Champions League-winning side of almost nine years ago.

"Alex has done a fantastic job there, hasn't he? I was at Bournemouth when I first met him 20-odd years ago and the team he's put together now could be one of his best," said the Portsmouth manager. "He's up there with all the great managers; Cloughie, Shankly, Busby – all the greats.

"Alex is not far from having another team as good as the one which had David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in his prime and won the treble," Redknapp added. "But with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and the rest of them now it's another fantastic team."

"You can't write off Chelsea and certainly not Arsenal but, for me, United are still favourites to take the title again."

Redknapp is expecting Portsmouth's trip to Old Trafford tonight to be a difficult one. "We will go up there and try to give them a right go. These games against the top four are bonus games for us now," he said. "If you are near the bottom of the League the prospect of going up to United can be frightening but we are in no danger of relegation now, we're playing well away from home and it is something to look forward to.

"Ronaldo's fantastic, Rooney, too, and Carlos Tevez. They can rip you to pieces if you are not careful. But we've got a good squad now even without the four lads [Pape Bouba Diop, Kanu, John Utaka and Sulley Muntari) away in the African Nations Cup. We'll be very strong when they come back.

"Lassana Diarra has come here from Arsenal and shown already that he's world class. We already have an outstanding goalkeeper in David James and a top full-back in Glen Johnson – who I think should both play for England.

"We've also got a terrific loan signing in Milan Baros, who has every chance of making his debut, and Sol Campbell should be fit to come back into defence, so we're not lacking quality."

The new England manager, Fabio Capello, is due to attend tonight's match but the player who continues to catch the eye is Ronaldo, who has scored 25 goals since being sent off at Portsmouth in August.

Pompey's Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar has impressed this season but even he admitted: "Ronaldo is the best player in the world at the moment, no doubt about it.

"If you had asked me last year I would have said Kaka. At the moment though Ronaldo is the best and maybe the only way to stop him is to tie him up.

"Otherwise you hope he has a bad day. OK, you double up on him and try to keep him as quiet as possible but he always seems to find a way through.

"He is still only flesh and blood and can have a day when nothing goes his way so you can still have confidence you can get something from a game like this, but to be top scorer in the Premier League as a winger is incredible.

"He can do everything. He is a yard or two quicker than anyone, his control of the ball is unbelievable – his shooting and heading as well."