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English Premiership

Fergie warning to Arsenal ‘no easing up’

FERGIE-FTMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 26 – Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson on Friday said that there was no prospect of his team easing off, despite them having already secured the English Premier League title.

United won the trophy for the 20th time with their 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday.

The Old Trafford club still have four games to play and Ferguson has said previously that his aim is to break the league points record of 96, which would require victory in the remaining matches.

The veteran manager has warned his players that he will not tolerate a dip in standards merely because their title win has been confirmed and feels his side owe maximum effort to all of the teams competing at both ends of the table.

“Having won the league there’s always the danger of falling into the trap of thinking that it’s all over and that we can relax and enjoy ourselves but we have a duty to other clubs that are chasing the Champions League,” he told a news conference in Manchester.

“And also the rivalry we’ve had with Arsenal and then Chelsea over the years does put an edge to these games and hopefully we can represent ourselves the right way.”

Ferguson also praised his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger’s decision for the Gunners players to form a guard of honour for United as recognition for their title win.

“I’m glad that Arsene has done that because when Arsenal came to Old Trafford some years back we did exactly that and that’s what great clubs should do.”

The latest league win was Ferguson’s 13th since taking over at Old Trafford in 1986.

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United have not finished outside the top three since 1991 and Ferguson feels there are a number of reasons behind their unprecedented success over the past two decades.

The 71-year-old added: “There are several factors. We never look back, we always look forward and we’ve got continuity of management, not just myself but my staff, and I think that definitely helps.

“We’ve got a nucleus of players that have been at the club a long time.

“Taking aside Ryan (Giggs) and Paul (Scholes), Rio (Ferdinand) has been here 10 years now and Vida (Nemanja Vidic) and Patrice Evra have been here for a number of years now and that’s helped the continuity of a staff. We’re not making changes every year.”

Ferguson has no major injury concerns ahead of his side’s trip to the Emirates Stadium.

He feels his side’s achievement in winning the title with games to spare, having been beaten on goal difference by Manchester City in the final seconds of last season, is all the more significant given the level of competition in the English top-flight.

“I’m delighted. I would take that any time. The competition you’ve got in the Premier League, you’re expecting it to be tough and it is tough,” he said.

“Sometimes we have won it before the end of the season but the competition is more severe now and it’s very tough but we’re delighted.”

Ferguson almost retired 11 years ago, reversing his decision, and despite entering his eighth decade he said he still relished the challenge of guiding the club.

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“I think if you’re going to manage this club you have to accept there is a sacrifice you have to make with your commitment to it and also there is an expectation to live up to and you have to win all the time,” he told reporters.

“That’s the only way you can fulfil the expectation and avoid criticism. The hardest thing is to maintain the level of success and keep going year after year.”

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