Ferguson wants title back

2012-07-18 00:00

WINNING back the English Premiership title from Manchester City is the priority for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United this coming season, the most successful manager in English football history said yesterday.

“It’s all about recovery, if you look back we have done it before — after Arsenal won the league in 1998 and then when Chelsea had their two years of dominance,” Ferguson told The Witness.

“Doing that again this season would be very special, but no more special than any of the other times.”

Ferguson has brought 22 players to South Africa to play in two pre-season friendlies — tonight against AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida and on Saturday against Ajax Cape Town.

“It is a disappointment not to see the likes of Rooney, Young and Jones in the [touring] squad, but it is an opportunity to see the young potential in the football club coming through,” the manager said.

“We have been training for about 10 days now and the guys are really looking forward to this. It is not something we are taking lightly. It is all part of our preparation to win back the title; that is what is most important.”

The Scottsman revealed that he would be starting tonight’s encounter with the most experienced of his touring party, including Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez.

“It is an opportunity to give the youngsters a run and we will have to wait and see what the regulations are with the amount of substitutions we are allowed, but we are expecting a difficult game,” he said, adding that he had noticed an improvement in the quality of South African football over the years.

“AmaZulu will be motivated to play us on what is a special day [Madiba Day].”

Speaking of his injured players back in England, Ferguson was pleased to announce that he was “sure” that club captain and influential centre back Nemanja Vidic would be fit for the start of the new campaign, which gets underway next month.

Speaking about Bafana Bafana, Ferguson was expectant.

“It is a fantastic country and you always want to see them doing well in world football and making World Cup finals,” he said. “They have done it a couple of times and hopefully they can get it right this time.”

Stand-in captain for the South African tour Rio Ferdinand, who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, said that he felt in good shape ahead of the new season.

“My history of injuries has been well documented, but I felt I managed my back problem well last season and I played 35 games for Manchester United,” the 33-year-old said. “

On being left out of England’s Euro 2012 squad and his international future, Ferdinand was circumspect.

“Right now, as has been the case for the last couple of seasons, playing for Manchester United is all I’m thinking about,” United’s number five said. “Whatever happens along the way I will take as it comes.”

Kick off tonight is at 8 pm and the match will be televised on SABC 1 and will be screened in 135 countries around the world.

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