Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

Fergie by a nose

Manchester United were at the races last Wednesday, a status that many of their fans believe the team haven't achieved often enough this season – put out of the FA Cup by Leeds United; beaten in the Champions League quarter-finals by Bayern Munich.

And tomorrow United need to beat Stoke City, and Chelsea to drop points to Wigan Athletic, to win their 19th title. It is not how Sir Alex Ferguson wanted it – even his horse finished second at Chester on Thursday.

Yet despite an untypical seven defeats this season United could still be champions. The pressure is off them precisely because they are not masters of their own fate. And though Stoke will presumably offer a more determined display than at Chelsea, when 11 traffic cones would have put up more fight, United should win like 1-8 chances.

It's very hard to see Wigan, at 28-1, beating Chelsea, even though they have broken their hoodoo against the traditional "top four" with home wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea this season. But a "park the bus" draw (10-1) is feasible. The fun bet is £10, at Ladbrokes' 7-1, for United to win the Premier League.

Fulham have won many fans outside Craven Cottage for their heroic Europa Cup run but I fear defeat to a wily Atletico Madrid next Wednesday – £10 win the Spaniards at 13-10, Blue Square.

*Near misses – Mike Selby out in the snooker semi-final; Rumoush done by the draw in a chaotic 1,000 Guineas; Desert Sea out of the money in sixth in Chester Cup.