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Rio laughs off the doubters

Rio Ferdinand says it is "ridiculous" that any team bar Manchester United could be considered title favourites this season.

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United have dominated the Premier League over the last five years, with only Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea having interrupted their stranglehold on the competition in 2009-10, and last season's triumph saw them overtake Liverpool's 18 titles.

Even so, some have expressed doubts over United's squad in light of their comprehensive Champions League defeat to Barcelona, but Ferdinand feels it is the result of rivals clutching at straws.

"It is ridiculous," he said. "It makes me laugh. We have won the league four times out of five. Half of it is that people want someone else to win it.

"Before I came here, Manchester United used to win the league and I would think it would be nice from a fans' point of view to see someone else putting up a challenge. Your heart rules your head sometimes. Not that it bothers me.

"There is a challenge every year. You have to rise to it. Each year we have risen to it and come through.

"We have won four out of the last five leagues. It has not been easy and it will be another tough season this year, but we are looking forward to it."

He added: "It was a weird summer. We won a 19th league title, which was obviously fantastic, but we lost the Champions League final.

"When you dust yourself down and analyse everything, it was a successful season. If someone had said at the beginning we would reach the Champions League final and win the league, we would have accepted it and I am sure the media would have thought we had done quite well. That is how you have to look at it."

The Champions League final was a re-run of the 2009 event in which United were beaten 2-0 despite entering the game as favourites, and Ferdinand says that was far tougher to take.

"The time before in Rome, I spent my whole summer moping around even though we had won the league," he said. "I just think you have to savour moments like that. The 19th title was a big event. We should enjoy it."

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