Like the rest of us, Sir Alex Ferguson has probably got bored of the Cristiano Ronaldo saga, along with the other will-he-won’t-he transfer tales in the tabloids. Therefore, in time-honoured tradition, the Manchester United manager has spiced things up ahead of the new season by claiming that Chelsea are too old to win the title next season (!) and that Phil Scolari will struggle to replicate Jose Mourinho’s success at Stamford Bridge. Sterling work as usually Fergie!
The Guardian report Sir Alex is in good form as we count down to the start of the Premier League season. Liverpool and Arsenal supporters will be heartened that the United gaffer sees them as a threat next term – that’s unless they choose to ignore these carefully calculated words.
“‘Plateau’ is maybe not the word, but how can they [Chelsea] accelerate beyond what they’ve done up to now?” he said. “When you see the ages they’ve got, apart from Salomon Kalou [who is 22] and Mikel John Obi , they are an experienced side. I’m not saying necessarily that they’re old because, with the modern-day training methods, you should be playing in your thirties. What I am saying is that I don’t see outstanding progress in a team that’s in their thirties.
“I don’t know Scolari. We played against him when we won the World Club Championship [against Palmeiras in 1999] and he has managed a lot of clubs. But he is experienced, having won the World Cup and managed Portugal, and that’s one thing he has in his favour.”
United have already been installed as favourites to win their 11th Premier League title next term, but Ferguson has warned against expecting a two-horse race between themselves and Chelsea. “I wouldn’t write off Liverpool or Arsenal. Arsenal had a good start last season and that carried right through until they had some injuries. It’s been understated what Arsenal did last season because they got injuries at a bad time.
“In February, they lost most of their midfield – they lost Rosicky, they lost Hleb for a spell and then Eduardo. Who is to say it wouldn’t have been closer if Arsène Wenger had kept his players fit?”
Clearly the neutrals amongst us would love to see a four-horse race next season which goes right to the wire. However, can Arsenal and Liverpool really trouble the Big 2? Will Scolari prove that his Chelsea team are capable of improving on the past performances and successes of his predecessors?