Ferguson expects Man United to respond after Wigan shock

Last updated : 15 April 2012 By AFP

United's march towards a 20th English league title was knocked off course by the Latics' 1-0 win at the DW Stadium on Wednesday and second placed Manchester City can move within two points of Ferguson's team with a win at Norwich on Saturday.

But Ferguson is confident his side will return to winning ways against Villa to ensure they maintain their five-point advantage over City.

"We have to put it (the Wigan defeat) in a bit of perspective. You drop points in the second half of the season. We have done it most years," Ferguson said.

"There has been an odd year when we have gone on a long run without losing but a couple of years back we lost 4-1 to Liverpool and won the league.

"You do drop points on the run-in. City and ourselves have both experienced that.

"From the position of a few months ago to where we are today, we have to be delighted.

"Sunday is very important and we must get back on track. The great thing about our club is we do recover and we have to do that again."

Ferguson has ignored claims by City manager Roberto Mancini that the title race is done and dusted after the Italian claimed five points is still too big a gap to close.

"I think he has maybe picked the wrong time to say it - there are still five games to go," Ferguson said.

"The Premier League is fascinating. Our experience will help us and Sunday's game is the one to focus on."

One of the absentees from United's defeat against Wigan was in-form Paul Scholes and Ferguson was criticised for leaving out the veteran midfielder with the title in reach.

Scholes has been an influential member of the squad since his return from retirement in January and will feature against Villa.

"Paul has shown his influence since he came back but I did the right thing to rest him on Wednesday. He will be fresh on Sunday and he will play," Ferguson said.

United have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday's clash at Old Trafford with Brazilian defender Rafael da Silva also expected to return after missing out on the trip to Wigan.

In contrast, Villa boss Alex McLeish has had to deal with a host of injuries this season with Richard Dunne and Darren Bent long-term absentees and Stiliyan Petrov out for an indefinite period as he battles illness.

Ferguson has sympathy for McLeish -- a former player of his at Aberdeen -- as Villa sit precariously just six points above the relegation zone.

"Alex had a rough first year at the club, not being able to buy players and selling a few," Ferguson said.

"It makes it difficult if you get injuries and he has had a couple of bad ones in losing Dunne and Bent, whose goals were a big loss.

"He has a lot of criticism from the fan base at Villa Park but he has handled the whole pressure very well. He is a very capable manager and I hope everything is all right for him."

With the danger of being dragged into the relegation battle hanging over them, Villa could have done without a trip to United but McLeish is hoping for an upset.

"Other than the result the other night against Wigan, United have been on an amazing run. They have been phenomenal and a lot of people will have them as champions elect," McLeish said.

"But hopefully we can put a spanner in the works. We know we face a United side who have been rampant, but you never know what could happen."

Source: AFP

Source: AFP