DERBY, February 16 – Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that his quest for five trophies is not an impossible dream after Manchester United remained on course for an unprecedented haul of silverware by beating Derby 4-1 in the FA Cup fifth round.
Having already claimed the Club World Cup and a place in the League Cup final against Tottenham next month, United can extend their advantage at the head of the Premier League to five points with victory over Fulham on Wednesday.
Ferguson, whose team are also in the Champions League last 16, certainly believes he has the squad to attempt a clean-sweep.
After making seven changes against Derby including relegating Nemanja Vidic to the bench and leaving out Dimitar Berbatov entirely, the Scot is determined to give himself every chance of keeping his team fresh for the run-in.
"The squad has been fantastic. They have carried us through and got us through some difficult games," said Ferguson whose team have been drawn against either Swansea or Fulham in the FA Cup last eight.
"With the game on Wednesday in mind I made some changes and the squad did very well again.
"That is encouraging and we are delighted to be in the next round of the FA Cup. It would have been nice to have a home draw, but we are one game away from the semi-final and that should give everyone a great incentive.
"I hope the squad can maintain the levels they have hit in the last few weeks, but I saw Swansea play very, very well against Fulham in the first game and that tie is far from finished."
Derby manager Nigel Clough has been up close and personal with United more than any other manager recently.
Since taking charge six weeks ago this was his third encounter with the European champions and after the way United breezed over their latest hurdle, Clough thinks people should begin to take their quintet quest far more seriously.
"It is possible that they can do all five. That was the most impressive performance they have put in against us. They are almost impossible to prepare for and when you look at the players they have to add to that squad and come back," Clough said.
"It is a very difficult thing to do and would be unprecedented, but they looked very good indeed and if anyone can do it they can. If they had played Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool today they could have put four goals past them as well. That is how good they were."
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of United’s goals from a relatively rare outing in a central striking role, to add to others from Darren Gibson, Portuguese winger Nani and substitute Danny Welbeck, while Miles Addison got one back for Derby.
Despite Ronaldo’s impressive partnership with Ryan Giggs, Ferguson has no plans to use him in that position on a more regular basis.
"He did well in a central role and we have great options with Ronaldo, but he is such a fantastic player out wide. He is streets ahead of everyone else in the game," added Ferguson.
"The goals he can get from out there are very valuable to us and you cannot deprive yourself of that by moving him and we also have plenty of strikers. Berbatov, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney will be back next week.
"Ronaldo is a centre forward playing wide and a winger playing centre forward when he is in the game. I like him as a winger and that is where I want him to play."