Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Silence All the Doubters, Says Under-Fire Fergie

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Silence All the Doubters, Says Under-Fire Fergie

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW HODGSON

SIR ALEX FERGUSON has vowed to silence the critics who have dared suggest he has "somehow gone past my sell-by date" as Manchester United manager.

United look set for a second successive third-place finish in the Premiership, prompting some doubters to question whether Ferguson has lost his touch after almost two decades at Old Trafford.

However, he said: "I find it strange that when Newcastle sacked Bobby Robson there was an outcry that they had got rid of so much experience. Now suddenly in Manchester experience counts for nothing. It's weird. But I will survive and so will Manchester United."

Ferguson has come under fire for persevering with a lone striker system which has left United struggling for goals this season.

But the 63-year-old insists it is not his tactics which have been at fault.

He added: "I accept that if you are not playing well and players are missing chances, the five in midfield can look as if you are lacking intent to win. But pushing two right up is not the answer if you are struggling.

"Our weakness has been much more basic. It's down to missing too many chances and there you have a problem that defies explanation. We have dropped 16 points to teams in the bottom half of the table because our finishing has been so poor."

Ferguson has again called on Rio Ferdinand to sign his new lucrative contract extension.The defender has been criticised by sections of the United supporters for failing to commit his future to the club in the wake of his meeting with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon.

The 26-year-old, who cost a club record [pounds sterling]29.1million from Leeds in 2002, insists he has no desire to leave United but eyebrows have been raised by the comments of his advisor Pini Zahavi, who claimed Ferdinand was deserving of a massive [pounds sterling]120,000a-week salary due to his status as the world's best centre-half.

Ferguson has been irritated by recent events and has questioned Chelsea's denial of any interest in the player. …

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