Premier League

Fergie harbours Lampard regrets

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Sun, 05 May 2013 10:04:00

Everton defender Phil Jagielka is pleased to be going into Sunday's derby as top dogs on Merseyside - and wants a win.

The Toffees visit Anfield with a five point lead and just three games remaining so can confirm they will finish above Liverpool for the second successive season with a victory.

That is a prospect Jagielka is relishing even though there is no silverware on offer for either club this season.

"For us it's nice to be ahead of them rather than trying to chase them," said Jagielka.

"Even though it is a game which won't decide much, there will still be plenty of pressure on both teams.

"It won't decide silverware - it won't decide who finishes in the top four - but we would still like to go to Anfield, win and build on that for next season."

Everton have won just one of their last 12 Merseyside derbies in the Premier League but Jagielka feels that statistic is a curiosity given their form against the other big clubs.

"The derby record at Anfield is very strange," he added.

"If you look at the same period of time, we have tended to do a lot better against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and United. We have made mistakes and been punished.

"Liverpool have had a number of penalties either because of sloppy mistakes on our behalf or harsh decisions.

"Without them we could have won. It sounds like sour grapes but we haven't been good enough to come out on top.

"Maybe we try too hard in these games. We have gone into them as massive underdogs. We now feel we are climbing up that ladder and we can shake off that tag."

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Jagielka is set to make the 500th appearance of his career at Anfield on Sunday and is hoping he can overshadow Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who is playing his final derby.

"I now have my own big day to deal with," said the England international defender. "It will be Jamie's last Merseyside derby but it would be nice for my 500th game to outweigh his last derby.

"But he's definitely been an inspiration to me. I take my hat off to him. He's had a fantastic career and got quite a few trophies as well.

"He's up there with the records at Liverpool and it's not as though he's just been around and done an okay job. For the last ten years him and Stevie have been pretty much the spine of Liverpool and kept them going.

"I'm sure Liverpool fans love him to bits and would love him to stay. But he knows his own body and mindset and he's looking forward to the next chapter."

When Van Persie arrived from Arsenal, the number nine shirt was still worn by Dimitar Berbatov, who did not leave for Fulham until the end of August.

Instead, the Dutchman inherited the 20 shirt worn by Brazilian defender Fabio prior to his loan move to QPR.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has offered Van Persie the chance to switch numbers next season.

However, the favourite to claim the Premier League Golden Boot prize for the second straight campaign intends to stick with what he has.

"I think I'll keep it," Van Persie told United Review. "I have the option to take number nine but I don't think I will do that. I'll stick with what is right and what feels good.

"Also, I don't want to be harsh on the fans who have got number 20 on their kit. I don't want them to have to buy a new shirt.

"It's been a good number for me and now I can at least celebrate the 20th trophy for another year. I'll stick with it."

United have confirmed their manager is booked in for hip surgery when he returns from the club's pre-season tour at the end of July.

Although United have not revealed the exact nature of the problem, the timings seem odd as, presumably, Ferguson could have the operation now, when it would not impact on the season, as it almost certainly will next summer.

That has led to suggestions it might be a cover story for Ferguson's retirement, which will almost certainly be announced with no prior knowledge.

However, in his programme notes ahead of tomorrow's encounter with Chelsea, written before the hip issue became public knowledge, Ferguson underlined his desire to carry on.

"This team of champions is not going away - we are here for the long ride," Ferguson told United Review.

"We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success.

"Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but I certainly don't have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see.

"It's always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up.

"But I don't live in a fantasy world and believe we have every reason to feel confident about the future of Manchester United."

Lampard is said to be on the verge of agreeing a new contract with Chelsea given the likely return of his former boss Jose Mourinho in the summer.

It is staggering it has taken so long for more positive vibes to seep out of Stamford Bridge as Lampard has enjoyed another fantastic campaign.

The 34-year-old has scored 16 goals this term, taking him onto 201 career goals for the Blues, just one short of Bobby Tambling's club record.

At one stage this season, it was suggested Manchester United might snap the midfielder up if Chelsea did not.

That seems unlikely to happen.

However, as the two clubs prepare to do battle at Old Trafford tomorrow, Ferguson has admitted he once thought about it.

"Lampard has been unbelievable," said Ferguson.

"I don't think a midfield player will be able to do that figure again. It's quite phenomenal.

"Like Bryan Robson, he has had a great knack of timing his runs into the box at the right time. John Wark was another one at Ipswich.

"The other things is I can't remember Lampard ever being injured. When he's not been playing it's because they thought he was past it.

"The guy has had a great career. I must say we looked at him when he was at West Ham as a young player and I maybe regret not having done it.

"Where else could I get 200 goals?"

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