Last updated : 17 December 2006 By Ed


"Apparently we have already lost a game which was due to be played in April.

"It's quite good really because we can have a rest on that weekend now. I can put my reserve team out, so we can save our energies for the next game.

"You never know. We could actually win, or we might be 20 points clear. I think the best thing for us to do is concentrate on ourselves because we are doing the right things.

"I have always said, once we get January 1 over with, you are able to tell the shape of the league.

"It is only then you know who will be challenging for the league with you and who will be involved in the relegation fight. It never changes in that respect.

"Hopefully, when we get to that point, we will be in a position where we know we will have a big, big chance.

"Don't forget that Chelsea's level this season is already better than it was in the previous two years.

"I would rather pay attention to my own team and I wouldn't mind if we were two points behind Chelsea because we are going in the right direction and we have an outstanding chance this year," Ferguson said. "We can get better. The area where we do have to improve away from home is the number of chances missed.

"Against Reading we drew 1-1 and could have scored six. Looking at our performances at Sheffield United and Middlesbrough, we should have won those games by more. We have to realise that we are making away games harder for ourselves if we don't take chances.

"We had a bad experience last year, but this is a different United team. It's an emerging team, which is getting better all the time, and we're really looking forward to the tie.

"To get to this stage is fantastic. We've improved as a team so much since last year and I'm sure they will be two great ties. We know it will be difficult, but that's what the Champions League at this stage is all about.

"It is three or four years since we got beyond the last 16. If we can get through, that is the direction the club should be taking. This is a club that has had some terrific journeys in the competition to finals, semi-finals and quarter-finals.

"But this team is young enough to be in contention for a number of years. The most important thing is that we are there and good enough to win."