Last updated : 05 January 2006 By Ed

"We want to be the nearest to Chelsea just in case they do a Devon Loch, just in case they collapse.

"You never know, malaria might hit the camp! We’ve got to hope something like that happens."

The Times:

Ferguson, meanwhile, has joked that he is praying for an outbreak of malaria at Stamford Bridge because it is the only way that Chelsea would fail to win the Barclays Premiership.

The comment is insensitive given that three Chelsea players, Gérémi, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba, come from three of the countries worst affected by malaria — Cameroon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast respectively — and that the illness afflicted Lomana LuaLua, the Portsmouth forward, this season after he returned to his native Democratic Republic of Congo, but José Mourinho is likely to realise that Ferguson was stating the odds against United when he talked of hoping for such an occurence.