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Title 1 win away but Fergie sets his sights on record points tally

“You’re asking can Manchester United win five games in a row,” scoffed the Scot. “How many times have we done that?”

Alex Ferguson and Robin van Persie celebrate.
Alex Ferguson and Robin van Persie celebrate.
Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER Alex Ferguson has praised his latest batch of players for their resilience and focus ahead of this evening’s game with Aston Villa.

Ferguson now knows that a home win, against struggling Villa, at Old Trafford will deliver league title number 20 with four fixtures remaining. Cross-city rivals Manchester City lost 3-1 at Spurs on Sunday to edge the Red Devils closer to title glory.

United were on the verge of their 20th title last season until City struck twice in injury time to defeat QPR. The bitterness of coming so close only to lose out has driven his players this season, declared Ferguson.

He told the club’s website, “I think it was a big job to do. The way we lost it helped us really and with the fact it was City, it gave us an incentive and you’ve got to admire the focus we’ve shown this season. There has been great focus. Our resilience and the consistency has been good. Like all previous teams, they never give in and that’s a fact.

I think the players, once they are here for two or three years, buy into the history of the club quite well. These are the qualities that have helped us to be where we are right now.”

A win would put United on 84 points and on-course to eclipse the 95-point total achieved by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004/05.

“It’s not beyond the team,” he insisted. “I don’t think it is at all. You’re asking can Manchester United win five games in a row. How many times have we done that? It’s not beyond us but I think it’s about the way we approach it.”

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Ferguson has reiterated his desire to keep Chicharito Hernandez and veteran defender Rio Ferdinand at the club next season.

He said, “We hope [Hernandez] feels as though he has made a contribution. He has scored 16 goals. When he came on the other night [at West Ham] his movement was terrific. He created a lot of openings for us.”

The manager remarked that Ferdinand, who is out of contract in the summer, is more concerned with lining up big name players for his upcoming testimonial than his immediate future at the club. He added that Ferdinand’s representatives will soon meet with club officials to thrash out a new deal.

Referring to this evening’s match Ferguson told Sky Sports, “You expect a scrap. You expect a team to fight for everything when they’re down there.”

Villa boss Paul Lambert commented, “It’s a game where nobody expects us to get anything out of it, except for ourselves. We’ll have a right, good go at it.”

*We will be liveblogging all the action from 7:30pm this evening

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Patrick McCarry

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