Fergie set 90-point title target for Red Devils
Sir Alex Ferguson has set Manchester United a 90-point target to win the Premiership title this season.
The Red Devils are currently on schedule, having taken 19 from their opening eight games to lead Chelsea on goal difference.
But, as he looked ahead to Sunday's crunch game with Liverpool at Old Trafford, Ferguson accepted there can be no let-up because the standard required to end a three-year title drought is so high.
'We have to be looking to amass something around 90 points this year,' he said.
'It is an exceptional figure, more than I have ever targeted before and even then it is difficult to say whether it would be enough or not.
'What it says is that we need a very high points total to win the league this year, which is why every point is so crucial to us.'
Ferguson dismissed as 'crazy' suggestions Liverpool would be out of contention should they suffer their fourth defeat of the season this weekend.
However, a quick look at the mathematics suggests the wily Scot is downplaying the importance of victory to his side in terms of ending Liverpool's title quest.
Should Rafael Benitez's side lose, the maximum points tally they could reach this term would be 98, which would require a record-breaking, and wholly implausible, 29 wins on the trot.
Still, Ferguson is correct in his assertion Arsenal were being similarly written off when they turned up at Old Trafford last month and now the Gunners are right back in contention.
'Results in these matches cannot have a decisive influence, it is far too early for that,' observed Ferguson.
'People were dismissing Arsenal a few weeks ago, now it is Liverpool. It is just crazy.
'I know fine well this game can change overnight. All it takes is a couple of wins and for the top teams to draw a couple of matches and everyone is back to square one again.'
Nothing will deflect Ferguson from his view that the teams near the top at the beginning of January will be those who will provide the greatest threat to his chances of marking his 20th anniversary as United boss with a ninth league title.
However, given their vast resources and back-to-back championship successes, the Scot does not require a crystal ball to predict Chelsea will provide the main obstacle to his hopes of glory.
'By the beginning of January, you have a good idea about who will be challenging, that has never changed,' he said.
'We have got ourselves into a decent position but, quite frankly, the name of the game for us now is not making mistakes because we want to be up there all the time.
'But, without doubt, Chelsea are still the team we want to beat. If we finish in front of them, we must have a hell of a chance.'