Sir Alex Ferguson seeks record Premier League points haul to eclipse Jose Mourinho

Victory tonight will seal United's title but manager targets beating Chelsea total

The Premier League title can be theirs on Monday night. But as his side stand on the threshold of a 20th championship against Aston Villa, Sir Alex Ferguson has looked beyond the accomplishment, declaring his Manchester United players are capable of surpassing Chelsea's record Premier League points tally by winning their last five games.

There is an excellent symmetry about United reaching this landmark – 20 years after Ferguson secured the first of his 13 – and though five straight wins looks like a challenge, with Arsenal and Chelsea to play in a seven-day period from Saturday, Ferguson said the 95 points Jose Mourinho's Chelsea secured in 2004-05 was an achievable target.

"It's not beyond the team at all. If you are asking if Manchester United can win five games in a row, well how many times have we done that?" the manager asked. "So it's not beyond us."

A total of 12 points from their remaining five games would see this United team break the club record 92 points secured by the 1994 Double-winning side. United can also still beat their own best winning margin of 18 points, set in 2000.

Even for Ferguson, a manager disinclined to count his chickens before they have hatched, the conjecture reached beyond the question of United reclaiming the title long before Manchester City's defeat at Tottenham yesterday. It revolves, of course, around the issue of how this team of designate -champions compares with others who have clinched the title for him.

Harry Redknapp declared on Sunday that this group was not as good as the Treble-winning side of 1999: the "pick of the bunch," as the Queen's Park Rangers manager described them. Ferguson did not dismiss the idea that the challenge had been weaker in a season when City have lost momentum and Arsenal and Chelsea suffered implosions.

"If we win the league, the team has to be considered in terms of other teams, there is no doubt about that," Ferguson said. But he clearly judges the points total as the prime indicator. "The points tally will tell you," he said. "We currently have 81 and we won the league in 1993 with 84 and we have five games left. Hopefully we can get to the nineties. Only Chelsea and ourselves have won it in the nineties."

In this discussion, Ferguson underestimated by three points the 90-point total that Arsenal secured in the year of the "Invincibles" – 2004 – but he did not disguise his feeling that the way City took last season's title left him with a monumental challenge. That must be factored in to any assessment of the 20th title. "I think we had a big job to do, you know? The way we lost it helped us really and the fact that it was City gave us an incentive."

He is looking to the composition of next season's squad already, observing as he prepares to face Paul Lambert's relegation-threatened Villa that Rio Ferdinand is receptive to signing an extension to the £130,000-a-week contract which expires this summer. "I have spoken to him and obviously at this moment in time he is more concerned about getting an opponent for his testimonial game," Ferguson said. "He is working on that, but we want him to stay and obviously I am sure his representatives will be discussing things with [chief executive] David Gill. "I would imagine that [staying] would be the best thing for him."

On the question of squad surgery in the summer, Ferguson said he thought it would "be minor" and at the forefront of his mind is his sense that the players who are 23 and under will improve. Shinji Kagawa, who is now beginning to display the ability United had hoped for when they signed him last summer, is clearly a major prospect for next season – a cause for concern for Wayne Rooney, who is vying with him for a role behind Robin van Persie.

"We have a reasonable group of young players from 23 years down," Ferguson said. "There is a resilience about this team. The consistency has been good and, like all the previous teams, they never give in, and that's a fact. The history of the club, more than anything, is what the players who have been here for two or three years buy into and do well. I think that these are the qualities that have helped them to be where they are right now."

Ashley Young has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, so will not face his former side tonight, while Paul Scholes is still recovering from a knee injury.

The only way City can frustrate Ferguson now is by denying him the chance to clinch the title when his players are actually on the pitch, by failing to beat West Ham United next weekend – an outcome contingent on United not winning tonight. Ferguson reflected on how that could hurt him – or not. This is a manager who has won titles when playing golf, working out in the gym and, as he remembered it, "watching the snooker – the World Championship final was on…"

29 United need four wins to better Chelsea's PL record of 29 in a season

22.4.13 If United win tonight, they will have won the title in the joint-second quickest time in terms of date. Their fastest came in 2001, clinching the title on 14 April

18 United can still beat their own best winning points margin of 18, set in 1999-00

95 They also have the chance to beat Chelsea's record points tally of 95 from 2004-05

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker