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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 24, 2006

Ferguson laughs off Chelsea ambitions

Sir Alex Ferguson has ridiculed the timing of Peter Kenyon's declaration that Chelsea will be the biggest club in the world by 2014.

Seventy-two hours before Manchester United entertain the back-to-back champions in the biggest game of the Premiership season so far, Chelsea chief executive Kenyon turned up the heat by claiming the cash-rich London outfit can knock the Red Devils off their lofty perch.

Ferguson has heard it all before from Kenyon, not least when he was running United prior to accepting the chance to steer Roman Abramovich's Stamford Bridge ship.

And, while the Scot is far too experienced to become embroiled in an argument not of his making so close to such a huge game, he did manage a chuckle at Kenyon's comments.

'I know Peter,' he laughed. 'It was a nice time to say that stuff.

'His comments don't bother me. I am hardly going to start quaking and trembling about them.

'In any case, I don't know how you work those things out. How can you tell whether you have 50 million supporters or 500 million?

'How other teams look at these things is their business. My only experience is that anywhere we go there always seems to be a mass of people crowding round the players all wearing shirts.

'There are all sorts of mythical tales about our club. All I know is that we have a great history and have all these supporters because we entertain. We will not change from that.'

Given the way Ferguson side-stepped any topic of potential controversy, it would be fair to assume the latter comment did not represent a sideswipe at Mourinho's notoriously negative tactics.

Instead, the United chief wants to ensure his own players recognise the opportunity lying in front of them at Old Trafford this weekend.

A repeat of their victory in the corresponding game last season would take the Red Devils six points clear of their opponents, moving Chelsea into unchartered territory.

Almost since the day Mourinho arrived in 2004, his side have been blazing a trail at the top. How they would react to being shoved aside remains a great unknown.

'Who is to say what their reaction might be,' said Ferguson.

'For all I know, they might go out and buy another six players.

'What we have to do is get ourselves into a position where we can find out what happens.

'You cannot hide the fact this is a great opportunity for us.

'Over the last two years, Chelsea have always been nine or 10 points ahead, which has made it very difficult for us to peg them back.

'This year we have got out of the blocks. For the first time, we are in front and have the prospect of us going six points clear, which would have them chasing us rather than the other way round.'

Ferguson reported no fresh injury concerns, and just as crucially, no mental scars from Tuesday's Champions League defeat at Celtic.

The United chief is pondering whether to recall Patrice Evra for Gabriel Heinze at left-back but the only major change could be in who is handed the responsibility of taking any penalties that come the home side's way.

Louis Saha's last-minute failure at Parkhead has opened up the opportunity for Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo, who both scored penalties at the World Cup last summer, to assume responsibility.

'Louis is fine but we have not decided yet whether he will carry on taking the penalties,' said the United boss, who then dismissed Neil Lennon's post-match claim that Gary Neville told him he feared the Frenchman would miss because his 'head had gone'.

'I don't give much credence to Lennon's comments,' said Ferguson.

'The Celtic players were, quite rightly, high on adrenalin and got carried away. It was a magnificent victory for them and it is easy to get excited afterwards.

'There are no issues for us though. When you lose a game, you sometimes need to go into the dressing room and address some things. I didn't have to do that this time because we played exceptionally well.

'What they did was forget they were playing in a competition against an opponent. They started to enjoy it, relax, controlled the match and lost it. What can you say in that situation?'