Chelsea bigger threat than Liverpool: Ferguson

LONDON: Sir Alex Ferguson insists Liverpool will struggle to pose a significant threat to Manchester United’s bid for a record fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Ferguson spent much of last season engaged in an increasingly bitter war of words with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez and the United chief has wasted no time taking aim at his old rival again. With the new league season still 10 days away, Ferguson has written off Liverpool’s hopes of ending their 19-year wait to win the title.

Although Liverpool defeated United twice last season, including a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford, and finished just four points behind the champions, Ferguson believes Chelsea will be his team’s main concern.

“It will be hard for them (Liverpool) to match last season, let alone improve on it. Other teams will know more about them,” Ferguson told The Sun. “Liverpool had probably their best season for

20 years and still finished four points

adrift. It has to be Chelsea as the main threat. Ancelotti will change how they play.”

The close-season departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez have led some

experts to predict a

less successful season for United. But Ferguson, who has signed Michael Owen and Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia, is adamant

his squad is strong enough to retain the

title and challege in Europe again.

“People have misread our situation and they have under-estimated our ability to improve players. That is an area where we have proved successful in the past,” Ferguson said.

“We are expecting a lot from (Jonny) Evans, (Danny) Welbeck, (Darron) Gibson, (Federico) Macheda and the Da Silva brothers. And Nani and Anderson have already shown good things, but they will improve this season. We will miss Ronaldo’s goal, that’s obvious. But (Dimitar) Berbatov will do well this year. And (Wayne) Rooney and (Michael) Owen are both capable of getting 20 goals, so we’ve got plenty of options.”

Meanwhile, Ferguson defended his decision not to spend the kind of money Real Madrid and Manchester City have splashed out during the close-season.

The lack of big-name signings had been attributed to United’s substantial debts. But Ferguson told United Review: “Pay no attention to the cynics who

have suggested our owners have stopped us spending. Believe

me, it was purely a football decision.

Maybe it is the Scotsman in me but I believe in value, even when I am spending someone else’s money, and the asking price for players we were looking at just wasn’t

realistic. What you

must remember is that we are working from a position of strength. We don’t suddenly have to splash out to try and compete at the top.”