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By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex not afraid of City challenge

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will not be resting on his laurels after leading the club to their 19th league title.

• Fergie revels in title win
• Jolly: Culmination of a career
• Gill expects Scholes to retire

A 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday was enough to secure the title for United, but Sir Alex highlighted Manchester City and Liverpool as strong contenders next season.

City made important strides this season by qualifying for the Champions League and picking up their first silverware in 35 years by beating Stoke City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

With the resources at manager Roberto Mancini's disposal, as well as the lure of playing in Europe's elite competition, City are being tipped to take United's Premier League crown of them in 2011-12.

And Liverpool are rejuvenated under Kenn Dalglish, and they will want to draw back level with United on 19 titles.

"I will not be taking it easy because we have won the title,'' he pledged on MUTV. "The ambition of the club doesn't alter. It doesn't go away. That is the responsibility as manager of Manchester United.

"You always expect Liverpool to challenge us. You always expect Manchester City to challenge us. The great thing about us is that we accept challenges. It doesn't matter where it comes from.

"Our job is to get better and we will try to be better next year.''

On knocking Liverpool of their perch, he said: "I don't know if I actually said that. But it was their time in the 1980s. It is our time now. You couldn't imagine we would have turned this around when I started.

"At that point I was looking just to get one trophy. Since then, it opened the door for us. We won the double the next year with a great team and got carried along in terms of always challenging for the title.

"That is 19 years we have been competing for the league. Only three times have we been outside the top two. That is an incredible achievement.''

During that time, United have reinvented themselves on three occasions and now, without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, are onto number four.

"Every young player that comes to the club gets ingrained with the fabric of it,'' said Ferguson. "It is a first medal for Chris Smalling, Darron Gibson and Javier Hernandez. That is a wonderful experience for them. They are the future.''

Ryan Giggs said: "Nineteen titles is a great achievement. It was tough as a United fan growing up in the 1970s and 1980s and seeing Liverpool winning everything. They are our biggest rivals and 20 years ago, when we were 11 behind, this was never on the cards.

"But credit to the manager and the club. We have gradually clawed the lead back and overtaken them. I am no different to any other fan watching Liverpool. Getting into this position is a very special moment.

"Just like when we won the first one after 26 years we won't rest on our laurels. We will try to push through and extend that lead.

"We want to conquer Europe now. We will celebrate this because winning the league is something to enjoy. But then we will be focusing on Barcelona and winning that Champions League. For a lot of us there is still that disappointment from Rome two years ago.

"We didn't do ourselves justice that day. Hopefully we will do it this time at Wembley.''


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