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Sir Alex stands up for rivals

On the eve of Manchester United's Champions League meeting with Chelsea, Sir Alex Ferguson has defended both Carlo Ancelotti and Fernando Torres from recent criticism.

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While Torres has come under pressure for failing to score in eight appearances since a £50 million move from Liverpool in January, Ancelotti has found his own role under scrutiny after an unconvincing campaign on the domestic front.

However, Ferguson believes criticism of both men is unfair, and has blamed the media for putting excessive pressure on his Italian opponent.

"I cannot understand how you can criticise Ancelotti, who won the Double in his first season at Chelsea," Ferguson told Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's the fault of the current media atmosphere.

"They invent problems where there are none. I am certain Carlo reacts like me. He ignores the media so that your decisions, your philosophy and your mental health are not affected by it. How can Chelsea think of changing a coach like him?"

Ferguson said of Torres: "Of course he will start scoring. I just hope he waits a little bit, at least until after the tie against us.

"When Chelsea signed him, everyone said what a great signing he was, and rightly so. Now everyone says that it was a mistake. Can people be more ridiculous? Of course he needs time to adapt."

In a wide-ranging interview, Ferguson also said that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho would have to wait to replace him at Old Trafford as he has no intention of retiring imminently. Mourinho is known to be one of the favourites to replace Ferguson when he finally does end his reign at United.

"Jose is a great friend of mine," Ferguson said. "We have spoken many times about his future and I understand his wish to return to England because here a coach has more freedom than in Spain, without the constant following of the media and radio.

"But it's difficult for me to say when my position will be available. It will be my health that decides. I will continue until I no longer feel the energy that has always accompanied me.

"My father, who worked in the shipyards, retired at the age of 65 and one year later he was dead. The worst you can do is to say I have worked for 45 years and now I have a right to rest. You need to always remain active and in good form.


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