SAF demands United improvement

Published Nov. 24, 2010 9:14 a.m. EST

Sir Alex Ferguson returns to his old Ibrox stomping ground on Wednesday night demanding that his Manchester United players "wake up."

United have somehow emerged with four points and a place alongside Chelsea at the top of the Premier League after their last two games, even though by Ferguson's admission they "could have been beaten by six" at Aston Villa and were not much better on Saturday against a Wigan side who had two men sent off.

Ferguson is acutely aware his side cannot rely on the failings of others indefinitely. And while Wednesday night involves a switch of focus to the Champions League, where his team have been impeccable since that opening-day draw with Rangers at Old Trafford, he accepts now would be a perfect time to hit full throttle.

"It is time to waken up," said former Rangers player Ferguson.


"The only thing I can say for certain is that the big teams will be fighting it out at the end of the season.

"There are a lot of ways of analysing football. You can look at the dropped points against West Brom, Everton and Fulham.

"With those points, we could have been six clear. But we scored in the last minute against Wolves and at Aston Villa we could have lost by six and somehow managed to get a point out of it.

"That tells you the character of the human beings I have got. They are people who are prepared to do something about the situation."

All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney tonight, but it is a huge occasion for strike partner Dimitar Berbatov too given his form has slumped dramatically since he scored that memorable hat-trick against Liverpool in September.

"We have been changing the strikers quite a lot recently and I have to accept responsibility for changing it too much," said Ferguson.

"But it has not taken Dimitar back to square one.

"In our game it is very difficult to play well every week.

"We are in a competitive league. The results themselves tell you something. Getting consistency of performance from front players is very difficult.

"Look around at other clubs. They are finding it much the same as us."

Ferguson will hand Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans the responsibility of keeping Rangers at bay, having opted to leave first-choice central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at home.