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Fitness could be key to title race - Fergie
Published : 29 Dec 2009 15:09:16
MANCHESTER United tackle Wigan at Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson admitting he would have gladly accepted being two points adrift of Chelsea in the depth of his defensive injury crisis. Victory against the Latics will get United precisely to that point in the Barclays Premier League title race. And with Gary Neville set to join Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown in Ferguson's squad, there is now light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel for the Reds. The relief for Ferguson is that Chelsea, despite their victory over Fulham yesterday, have not managed to surge clear as he has wrestled with a problem that forced him to play Michael Carrick in central defence for almost a month, with Darren Fletcher joining him in the back four. I would definitely have taken being two points behind the leaders, said Ferguson. When you look at all the defenders we have had out injured. It has been a key period to try and get through it. It is impossible to play midfield players at centre-back in this league. You might get away with it once. But not twice. In fact, United's struggles, which included a home defeat to Aston Villa and a pre-Christmas hammering at Fulham, only tell part of the story of an extraordinary month. At one point on Monday, it appeared Ferguson's team would be trying to secure top spot against Wigan before Chelsea eventually scrambled to a narrow win over Fulham that edged them five points in front of a chasing pack that includes Arsenal, Tottenham, Villa and also Manchester City, whose new manager Roberto Mancini claimed the Blues were gunning for the title after a hat-trick of wins over the Christmas period. It is so tight, said Ferguson. When you see it grouped up like that the teams further down think they can do it. Sometimes the optimism is not realistic but people should feel like that about their chances because the league has lacked a consistent team that has won a few matches in a row. The vital answer to it is this - can you keep all your players fit? Big squads do help but look how we suffered by having all the defenders out. Teams who want to do well need a good nucleus of players to work with. Then you can pick your strongest possible team every week. Who are United's key players and who can they live without? Have your say.