Birthday wish for Sir Alex

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

Ferguson reaches his latest milestone on New Year's Eve, which is just when he likes to look at the league table to assess how United are faring and where the biggest dangers lie in their search for glory. As they emerge from the last international break of the season, it is clear there is work to do. Five points adrift of Manchester City, they head to Swansea for Saturday evening's televised game knowing the gap could be even wider at kick-off. But Ferguson feels the continuity will allow United to find top form and start to exert some pressure on their neighbours. "It is an opportunity for us to kick on," he said. "We have some big games coming up, against Newcastle and Aston Villa and December is always a hectic month. You have to utilise your squad to navigate your way through it all. "By December 31 hopefully we will be in the right position. It is always quite a good indicator about what your chances are and who the challengers are. "I always use that barometer. I would be happy to be top, or second. As long as we were within a point or two, that would do me fine." With Ashley Young set to return to compensate for the loss of Danny Welbeck, plus Tom Cleverley, who has suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury and will be out until Christmas, United make their first trip to Swansea in confident mood. They have won four matches on the trot, and kept four clean sheets since that horrendous defeat by City at Old Trafford, just as Ferguson expected. "We have stabilised the situation, as we expect to do at this club," he said. "We have had a few injuries to deal with but most of them are coming back and we should have a strong enough squad to do well." Michael Carrick is amongst those returning after injury. So far, the 30-year-old has struggled for consistency, has lost his England place and not started a Premier League game for the Red Devils. However, much like his team, now is the time he expects Carrick to come good. "Michael always takes a little bit of time to get going," he said. "But this is always a good spell for him and he will play a big part."

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