Sir Alex Has Confidence in His Winning Team
Manchester United may not have the cutting edge of previous title and double winning sides, but they possess the one thing that really matters, and the one thing that is so rare and therefore valuable to a trophy challenging side; the ability to dig out a win when the opposite looks inevitable. It is a trait that Sir Alex Ferguson has pumping through his veins and has clearly rubbed off on his side as they sit six points clear at the top of the League and in the Champions League semi-final.
Sir Alex was speaking this week-end of the final few fixtures this season which include games against the two title challengers, Arsenal and Chelsea. He was frustrated that people who talk of the two games against Arsenal and Chelsea suggest that United will lose them, or at least drop points. This may be the likely possibility in at least one of the fixtures as the side may be suffering from fatigue as they battle on both the European and domestic fronts, but Sir Alex remains defiant:
“The thing that puzzles me is that people keep saying we still have to play Arsenal and Chelsea and they talk about these games as if we are going to lose them.”
“Why can’t we win these games? Why can’t we go to the Emirates Stadium and win, as we have done previously? I told the players to forget about all that nonsense and just win their games.”
United are favourites for the League, as they have been for a few months now, but with the recent slip-ups of Arsenal, it is generally thought that United will have the trophy in their hands sooner rather than later. If they win both games against Arsenal and Chelsea, they will have their 19th title, overtaking Liverpool’s record, as Sir Alex Ferguson finally completes his promise to knock Liverpool off their perch. How has he done it? How has the greatest manager of his generation, and possibly ever, been able to guide this team to close success? A winning mentality, great character, and a fierce fight until the end:
“There is that winning attitude about them. We will keep our heads down and not get carried away. There are only four games left and the way they are going about their business and the effort they have shown, it gives them an outstanding chance of being champions. You can test people’s character but they keep coming through.
“We had some great openings and could have had this match finished by half-time but it is in the traditions of Manchester United that we don’t do that. We always wait until the very end and keep everyone high on the edge of their seats but we get there.”
United will face Schalke 04 on Tuesday, a match which the German side will be underdogs, a position that so far in the European campaign, they have thrived on. It will be a tough test for Sir Alex’s side, who will come up against a player who is a European legend, and a player that United held talks to sign last summer.
Former Real Madrid striker Raul had attracted Ferguson, and he said that although United were looking for young players, Raul is still a top striker, and could make it at United. However, with the strikers already at United, including Rooney, Berbatov, Owen and the then newly acquired Javier Hernandez, Sir Alex decided to pass up the opportunity to sign the Spaniard:
“You can make exceptions for certain players, because experience is so valuable. We thought the same when we signed Michael Owen, who has been a terrific professional for us, and bringing in Raúl would have been similar to when we managed to get Henrik Larsson for a short time a few years ago.
“It was obvious his time at Real Madrid had come to an end, and he certainly wasn’t too old to be effective, as he has been showing in Germany. We spoke to his agent about a possible move but we already had Javier Hernández by then and, with Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen available, we thought we could afford to let the chance pass.”
“If we hadn’t had Michael at the club at the time I might well have signed him.”
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