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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 5 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Apr 25, 2008

Ferguson unhappy with 'unfair' scheduling

MANCHESTER, April 25 (Reuters) - Title rivals Chelsea have been handed an unfair advantage over Manchester United by the scheduling of Saturday's potential Premier League decider, United manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday.

The two clubs meet at Stamford Bridge in a lunchtime kickoff on Saturday with United knowing that victory will give them the title for the second year running.

But Chelsea will keep their hopes alive if they win and Ferguson believes that the timing of the match, in between the two legs of the Champions League semi-finals, will aid Avram Grant's side.

'The fixture is not fair in terms of the timing between the two games,' Ferguson told reporters.

'The Liverpool fixture with Chelsea was Tuesday followed by Wednesday, so there is four days either way to get themselves ready which is a big advantage, there is no question about that.

'Unfortunately, we have 60 hours to prepare for this game. All we can do is rest them.'

Twenty-four hours after Chelsea drew 1-1 at Liverpool on Tuesday, United drew their Champions League semi-final 0-0 in Barcelona and opted not to immediately travel back to Manchester to begin their build-up to the summit meeting.

'We stayed overnight in Barcelona. Then we had a light training session at Barcelona's training ground. Being in the sun and having a day relaxing is probably the best thing we could have done,' added Ferguson.

'Once you shake hands with the devil (the television companies) there is nothing you can do about it.

'It is not fair but what can you do? It happened to us last year after the semi-final with AC Milan when we had to play Manchester City on the Saturday lunchtime straight afterwards. We just get on with it.'

United won the corresponding game at Manchester City last season and were crowned champions 24 hours later when Chelsea drew with Arsenal.

The title beckons again before United face Barcelona at Old Trafford on Tuesday for a place in the Champions League final.

'We could achieve quite a lot in the next few days,' said Ferguson. 'The incentives are all there and we have the players to do it. We have the squad to do it.

'We just have to make sure we are rested properly and prepared for the game (against Chelsea). The game will take care of itself. It is a massive, big game.'

Ferguson hopes that defender Nemanja Vidic will be fit to face Chelsea after missing the goalless draw in the Nou Camp with a stomach upset.

He added: 'We dealt with it right away. We got him to the hospital quickly. We hope he is going to be alright.

'He has trained this morning. We are hopeful he will be fit.'