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Sir Alex Ferguson has warned the FA not to gift Chelsea a title advantage.

The Manchester United boss is concerned the rearranged date for his side’s Premier League showdown with the current champions could prove the decisive factor in determining top spot this season.

Ferguson insisted he doesn’t mind when the game is played…just so long as it offers equal consideration to both teams’ crowed fixture lists.

The nightmare scenario is that the fixture won’t be played until right at the end of the season…and with Chelsea enjoying home advantage for the clash, it could offer them a real edge as the race comes down to the wire.

The showdown between the two teams was due to be played last weekend, but was postponed due to snow at Stamford Bridge, and already the United manager is worried that it will give his great rivals a huge boost when they need it most.

“I’m not concerned when it’s played, to be honest with you, as long as it’s fair on both teams in the sense of congestion of fixtures when the game is actually played and wedging it between certain games,” he said.

“We’ve had to look at the fixtures in the last few days and it’s quite a difficult one. Because you’ve got the FA Cup dates, it’s difficult to know where to place it, and that’s from the point of view of the Premier League and Chelsea as well.

“They’ll be looking at the fixture list too. It certainly seems like it’s not going to be played until after March at least. All we want is for the new date to be fair for both teams.”

With United and Chelsea likely to be involved in the later stages of the Champions’ League, and with both clubs almost perennially involved in long FA Cup runs, there really are few free midweek slots for the game to be replayed.

It could mean that they will have to wait until as late as May to replay the fixture, and that offers the mouth-watering prospect of a double-header between the two sides to decide the destination of the title.

United entertain the London club in the league on May 7, and that obviously offers them a real advantage. But that could be prised back by Chelsea if they can persuade the FA to reschedule the following midweek, before the final weekend of the season on May 15 – which is one of the few free midweeks.

Ferguson knows that his side have already lost out, because Carlo Ancelotti’s side were in poor form when the original fixture came around, and he doesn’t want to see his rivals given an unexpected boost in the title race that has been between the two clubs for the past six years.

Ferguson is clearly troubled by the fixture…but he still insisted he believes enough in his side’s quality to go to Stamford Bridge and win the title.

“It’s difficult to say with these things. Obviously Chelsea are in a bad bit of form and they were probably quite happy to get the game off, that’s one way of looking at it,” he said.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter when we go to Chelsea, we’ve got to be confident of going there with the right team to win.”

It has been a bizarre season so far, with United, Chelsea and Arsenal all dropping many more points than expected, but Fergie still believes it will come down to a three way race between those clubs.

The Old Trafford boss though, was at pains to point out that the quality of English football has improved again, with a new generation of top class coaches closing the gap between the middle-ranked clubs and the elite.

“It’s a funny league now. The middle teams have certainly tightened up the league, there’s not doubt about that. You have to recognise it’s a different type of league, with teams getter closer,” he said.

“But I still don’t think they’ll be anyone outside of ourselves, Chelsea or Arsenal. I think those three will certainly be there at the end.

“I know Harry is talking up his chances very well at Tottenham but they’re involved in the Champions League and it’s a new thing for them. City have got a chance, of course. That’s the other team, and they could buy, but I don’t see anyone outside the three.

“The financial gap is maybe closing too, but is it not the management also? I think there are a lot of good young managers in the Premier League now and they’re galvanising their teams well.

“Steve Bruce has turned Sunderland around, Alex McLeish is doing a great job at Birmingham, Owen Coyle has his team on a fantastic run and Roberto Di Matteo at West Brom too.

“The football West Brom are playing this season and the goals they’re scoring away from home, they’re a highlight to the season, so you have to give credit to what’s happening in terms of the management structure of the league.”

Source: Mirror

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