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By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex demands United kill teams off

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has urged his team to find the killer touch if they are to secure their Premiership title dream.

Although United have dropped points in only three of their 17 league outings so far, Ferguson is growing increasingly concerned about their failure to take chances.

The Red Devils chief points to a series of away fixtures - at Sheffield United and Middlesbrough in particular - where his side have made life unnecessarily hard for themselves, while against Reading a weakness in front of goal cost them two precious points.

Probably the most glaring example of their inadequacy came in the Champions League encounter at Celtic, when United dominated and earned themselves a last-minute penalty, yet still ended up on the wrong end of a single-goal defeat.

So, while the Old Trafford outfit stare down from the Premiership summit boasting a five-point lead, Ferguson feels there is plenty of room for improvement.

'We are making away games harder for ourselves by not taking our chances,' he said.

'We could have won by six at Reading and ended up drawing, which was a slip, and we should have won by a lot more at Sheffield United and Middlesbrough.

'Overall, the players have been doing fantastically and I have to trust them, but it is an area where we can improve.'

Despite Ferguson's complaint, United have still established a healthy advantage over Chelsea in the goal difference stakes.

It is 1989 since the league title was last settled by such a slender margin. But, while Ferguson does not expect a repeat, he would be happy to accept it.

'I would take that right now,' he said, ahead of tomorrow's trip to West Ham.

Although United have a relatively good record at Upton Park, Ferguson has effectively lost two league titles - in 1992 and 1995 - at the ground.

And, having played a significant role in persuading Alan Curbishley to step into the vacant Hammers' hotseat, the Scot accepts United probably face a tougher task than they might have anticipated.

'There is no doubt Sunday will be a harder game for us now,' he said.

'The West Ham players will have an increased energy and desire because they will want to convince and impress their new manager.

'But maybe that will be a good thing for us because we will have no illusions about the task that awaits us.'