Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side has what it takes to beat Chelsea’s Premier League record points haul of 95 ahead of Monday’s night’s game against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
Manchester City’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday means United will win the league title for a 20th time, 13 of which have come after the formation of the Premier League, if they beat Villa.
Chelsea clocked up 95 points in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, winning 29 of their 38 fixtures and scoring 72 goals. United have already outscored that Chelsea team, but will have to win all five of their remaining fixtures to finish on 96 points.
“If we win the league, the team has to be considered in terms of other teams. It’s not beyond the team [beating 95 points] at all,” Ferguson said. “If you are asking if Manchester United can win five games in a row, well how many times have we done that? So it’s not beyond us.
“What may create more awareness of the side we have this year is how many points we get. We won the league in 1993 with something like 84 points. We have also won leagues with 91 points and been second with 91 points, to Chelsea. That has to be considered in terms of judgment against other teams, but it doesn’t bother me, really.
“But the way we approach it is quite good and the response on Wednesday [drawing 2-2 at West Ham] was fantastic, at a ground that is a difficult place to go to and with the way they play and put you under pressure with set pieces. I think we’re proud of the players coming out of that and there won’t be any slacking off by the players.
“There is a resilience, 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.
“[I’ll be] No more proud than I was with the previous 12. It is not an easy league to win. The first one was the one that really opened the door for us, though.”
If United do not beat Villa and have to wait until the weekend to secure the title, perhaps when Man City entertain West Ham in Saturday’s early game, that would not both the United boss.
“Not for me. I’m happy for it to happen like that,” he insisted. “It has happened a few times. When Oldham beat Villa at Villa Park [in 1993] I was on the golf course and when Liverpool and Newcastle [each] drew in London on the same night , I was in the gym at Mottram Hall.
“There was another occasion, when Coventry beat Blackburn in a Monday night game , I was watching the snooker – the world championship final was on. Then there was a Leeds game when Peter Reid was in charge [at Arsenal, in 2003] when [Mark] Viduka scored a couple and they beat them.”