Fergie: Blues not out of it yet

Although United have had their problems this season, slipping to

that stunning 6-1 home defeat to Manchester City and being held to

Champions League draws on home soil by Basle and Benfica which have

put their last 16 place at risk, those issues are nothing compared

to those being experienced by Andre Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge.

Wednesday’s last-gasp defeat at Bayer Leverkusen means Chelsea have

won just two of their last seven games, slipping 12 points behind

City in the Premier League title face and facing a do-or-die

confrontation with Valencia in a fortnight when even a score draw

would send them tumbling into the Europa League. Given the past

experiences of more successful managers, there are already some who

feel Villas-Boas is living on borrowed time. But Ferguson is not

willing to dismiss Chelsea’s challenge just yet. Asked if Chelsea

were out of the race, Ferguson said: “No. I would never dismiss

Chelsea because the progress they have made in the last decade is

there for everybody to see. “They have won three titles, they have

won the FA Cup a few times. They are bang in there in the European

competitions. They have reached semi-finals and a final. “That

experience will help them to come out of this bad spell.” Ferguson

does not even liken it to his own experience, when, for three

seasons from 2004 he was forced into a major rebuilding programme,

sparked by the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney,

which resulted in the club regaining their former pre-eminence

after three successive years when they failed to finish top. “I

don’t know what their rebuilding programme is like in terms of the

young players,” he said. “But if you take the case of Arsenal, they

were written off. “Arsene Wenger was getting terrible criticism.

Now everyone is saying they have a chance to win the league again.

That is what football does. “There is inconsistency from everyone

at some point in the season. Everyone drops points. “My aim is to

make sure we don’t drop more than the rest.”