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Horncastle: Totti thriving at 40

Italian Serie A
By ESPN Staff

Lippi tips United for trophy double

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi is backing Sir Alex Ferguson to bring two trophies to Old Trafford because the Scot has instilled a willing work ethic in his players.

Ferguson's Manchester United side are in sight of retaining their Barclays Premier League title and also have a Champions League final to look forward to.

United will complete the first part of the exercise on Sunday should they defeat Wigan at the JJB Stadium.

Chelsea would match them on points if Bolton are beaten but there would need to be a 17-goal swing for the championship trophy to head south.

Nevertheless it is an enthralling finish to the domestic campaign and the Premier League rivals will then go head to head in the Champions League final on May 21.

Moscow will host the the first all-English showdown in Europe's top club competition.

Lippi, who led Italy to the World Cup in 2006, believes the momentum is with United.

He told 'Chelsea beat them in the league but United were not at their best.

'It was a big boost for Chelsea even if they probably know it will mean nothing because United will win their remaining league game to win the title.

'Chelsea are in good shape but I think United have a slight advantage in the final.'

Lippi is an old friend of Ferguson and believes the veteran Scottish boss has perfected the art of man-management.

While Cristiano Ronaldo has taken most of the plaudits after scoring 40 goals, the Italian claims United are strong because the players are prepared to work for each other.

Lippi said: 'People say that players make the difference and a coach counts for only 20% of a team's results.

'I don't think it's like that at all. I think today the coach is very important.

'When you are managing a number of great players, many of them from different countries with different mentalities and cultures, the personality and the character of the coach becomes crucial.

'This is the case with Ferguson. You can clearly see that every United player is ready to sacrifice himself to help the team.

'Nobody thinks for himself, everyone is focused on the team first. To have success in every competition you have to be a great manager.'

Lippi has been thoroughly impressed with the way Ronaldo has come on this season.

The Portugal winger looks a shoo-in for the FIFA World Player of the Year award after winning respective seasonal prizes from the Professional Footballers Association and the Football Writers Association.

Lippi said: 'It's difficult to imagine he can improve considering the level he has reached.

'You mustn't forget that he does everything at supersonic pace so it's natural to make some mistakes when you play at that speed.

'Maybe if he slows down his way of playing a bit he could reduce his margin of mistakes.

'But he doesn't have to do it because his major quality is to do great things at great pace.'