Ferguson: Huge total required

Ferguson: Huge total required

Published Jan. 13, 2012 1:16 p.m. ET

United required only 80 to claim a record 19th championship last term, by an impressive nine-point margin from Chelsea and Manchester City.

They have already reached 45 from their first 20 games this season, yet, after successive defeats to Blackburn and Newcastle, still find themselves three adrift of City, with Tottenham now trailing the Red Devils only on goal difference.

Ferguson is not convinced any club will be able to maintain that momentum over the arduous second half of the campaign.

However, the United boss acknowledges the demands this term are going to be much greater.


"It could be the high 80s the rate it is going, which is surprising," said Ferguson.

"Two or three years back there was definitely a tightening up of the league.

"It became a bit harder and instead of four teams battling for the top positions, you had six, with Manchester City and Tottenham coming into the reckoning as well.

"That makes it far more interesting for the spectators and neutrals."

Ahead of Saturday's Old Trafford encounter with relegation-threatened Bolton Ferguson conceded United's tricky programme over the remainder of the campaign, including a succession of away matches against nearly all their rivals, makes life especially difficult.

"I don't think it is impossible for the final totals to be double the number of points we have now but it is unlikely," he said.

"It would be a hard task for the three of us to maintain that kind of consistency and get another 45 points.

"We have very difficult games away from home; Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City. That is four massive games.

"Points will be dropped on the run-in. That is the nature of the league and how competitive it is.

"You just hope you don't drop as many as the rest."

Although last weekend's FA Cup win at Manchester City ended the gloom that those recent losses had brought to the club, Ferguson was not impressed with the second-half display at the Etihad Stadium, just as he was unhappy at how his side had performed in their previous two games.

Accepting the brilliance of Demba Ba's opener for Newcastle, an ultimate three-goal defeat was large by the Red Devils' standards.

And when they slumped to that surprising defeat against Blackburn on New Year's Eve it was due to United's failure to match their opponents' tenacity.

Given he expects a very similar approach from Bolton, who remain in the bottom three despite taking seven points from a possible 12 over the festive period, Ferguson is demanding improvement.

"Any team that is down the bottom of the league, we have to address it properly," said Ferguson.

"We went into the Blackburn game with respect for them but we didn't get a good performance, which is what you need against a team that is battling for everything.

"When you are down there, that is the one thing you are guaranteed.

"These clubs are fighting for their existence and we expect just the same from Bolton."