Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson mocks champions Chelsea’s ‘easy’ start to the season

September 23rd, 2010

Easy street: Sir Alex Ferguson believes unbeaten champions Chelsea couldn't have asked for a better start to the season

Sir Alex Ferguson has hit out at Chelsea’s easy start to the season, claiming: ‘I think they chose the fixture list themselves.’

Carlo Ancelotti’s side face their first big test on Saturday against Manchester City at Eastlands, having beaten West Bromwich, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool in their opening five games.

Chelsea’s 100 per cent record has put them four points clear at the top of the table — with 21 goals scored and just one conceded — and Ferguson believes the champions could not have asked for better fixtures from the Premier League to begin their title defence.

‘It’s quite an amazing start to the season,’ said the Manchester United manager.

‘I think Chelsea chose the fixture list themselves. They finished last season scoring a lot of goals against weaker teams and have continued that way.

‘You still have to beat those teams but Chelsea have done that in quite a strong fashion and anyone who wins the league will have to finish above them.’

Despite Chelsea’s flying start, Ferguson believes their two games with United at Stamford Bridge in December and Old Trafford in May will be pivotal.

Blue order: But Chelsea face their first real test on Saturday away at Man City

He also backed neighbours Manchester City to pose a threat if their signings settle after Roberto Mancini spent another £126m in the summer.

‘The Premier League is such a difficult league, it’s almost tribalism and you can’t dismiss the impact when it comes to winning it,’ added Ferguson.

‘I always look at the team that wins the league the year before. Chelsea are the champions, they’ve had a good start to the season and I look upon them as the main danger to us. The games that will matter will probably be the ones against each other. Last year we lost both of those games and that decided the title.

‘The top three are the strongest. United, Arsenal and Chelsea have started reasonably well and will all be there at the end of the season. It remains to be seen in what order.

‘You have to give respect to Tottenham’s progress in the last few years. City have not had the strongest start but they’re going to be a big challenge with the squad they have and the power they have with their big lads.

‘Roberto bought half a team in the summer, not easy to bed down, but if they get continuity they’ll certainly be a threat.’

Ferguson denied Wayne Rooney is suffering from a crisis of confidence, but admitted the glare of publicity is taking its toll on his star striker.

Rooney has scored just once in four games for United as he confronts problems in his personal life.

Ferguson said: ‘I don’t believe he has a confidence problem. The boy is starting to realise what kind of focus is on him. I don’t think the boy can turn without a camera on him.

‘But for a young person that is not what you want. You want to enjoy your football without that attention on you. That can be quite exhausting.’

Ferguson could not resist another dig at Rafael Benitez after the pair reignited their rivalry ahead of United’s clash with Liverpool last Sunday.

Asked which club benefited most from the managerial changes this summer that saw Jose Mourinho move to Real Madrid from Inter Milan and Benitez take his place, Ferguson replied: ‘Real Madrid are better off.

‘The Real Madrid job is the hardest challenge of Jose’s career. We’ve spoken a couple of times. He’s not managing a normal club, sometimes he’s managing a circus.’

Ferguson missed his side’s 5-2 Carling Cup win at Scunthorpe because he was watching United’s next Champions League opponents Valencia.

Michael Owen scored twice for United and the striker believes he will be given more chances.

He said: ‘There’s a lot of us in the same boat who haven’t had many minutes. But now the Champions League’s started, the League Cup’s started and there’s League games all the time, there are going to be games coming thick and fast.’


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