Sir Alex Ferguson has finally abandoned all hope of Chelsea suffering a Devon Loch-style title collapse. For the past couple of months, the Manchester United boss has been keeping his fingers crossed that Jose Mourinho’s boys will falter. Although a run of one win in four Barclays Premiership starts did allow the Red Devils a chance to close the gap slightly, Chelsea’s unconvincing win over Portsmouth last weekend convinced Ferguson United’s championship challenge is now a lost cause.
Fergie said to MUTV :
“We have accepted the situation. Chelsea are not going to fall away. Even last weekend we wondered whether Portsmouth might get something because they were struggling and fighting for their lives. But then Frank Lampard scores again and it just changed the whole picture. Chelsea’s strength is that they do not concede. That is what makes them such a formidable outfit so now the challenge for us all is to finish second.”
After three seasons without a title triumph, the concern for Ferguson must be how to engineer United into a situation where they can mount a realistic bid to reclaim the trophy next year. Although he is convinced about the merits of his own developing team with young players pulling through such as Ronaldo, Ji-Sung Park, Richardson and Fletcher- Chelsea’s limitless ability to spend Roman Abramovich’s millions threatens to create a gulf United have no hope of bridging.
Malcolm Glazer’s ownership of the Old Trafford outfit may still be a very touchy subject for many fans but all would acknowledge there is no conceivable way of United being able to plunge an incredible £140million in the red over a single year as Chelsea have done, no matter who was controlling the purse strings.
And, with talk of German star Michael Ballack being close to completing a move to Stamford Bridge on a mind-boggling £120,000-a-week contract, it is difficult to see how United can possibly prevent Chelsea enjoying a similar period of dominance as Ferguson enjoyed in the 1990s.
“Obviously we have to make sure they don’t dominate. There is a possibility of achieving that because we have an emerging team. But it is a big challenge because we know they have fantastic resources financially. Everyone expects them to get rid of three or four fringe players this summer and bring in another four or five. It would not be a complete evolution but there would be a change in personnel which keeps things fresh. It seems that is the way they are looking to operate.“
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