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

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
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