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Ferguson hits back at Grant as season reaches climax

SoccerNews in English Premier League 2 May 2008

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson hit back at title rival Avram Grant on Friday as the race for the Premier League erupted into a war of words.

On the eve of the penultimate weekend of the season, Grant said it was “wrong” of Alan Curbishley, whose West Ham side visit Old Trafford on Saturday, to suggest he wanted Ferguson to win the league.

In a recent newspaper column, West Ham manager Curbishley said it would be a “great injustice” if United did not retain the Premier League crown this season.

United will open up a three-point lead over Chelsea, who play away at Newcastle on Monday, if they defeat West Ham in their final home game of the campaign.

Ferguson, speaking at his pre-match press conference at United's Carrington training ground on Friday afternoon, said he had been disappointed to learn about Grant's comments.

“I don't know why he has suggested that there might be something untoward,” added the United manager.

“He should know better.”

Ferguson insisted that his side, who have been in euphoric mood since booking their place in the Champions Lesague final at Barcelona's expense on Tuesday, could not take West Ham for granted, particularly as the London club have won the last three league meetings with United.

But he claimed that his United side were in the driving seat with two games of the Premier League season left.

“We have got a better goal difference and if we both win our last two games then I'll be very happy,” added Ferguson.

“We have got to be in the driving seat.”

Ferguson did concede that Chelsea do have an advantage over United given that they have had more time to recover from Wednesday's Champions League game with Liverpool.

“They have certainly got a physical advantage given that they aren't playing until Monday,” he said.

“However Newcastle isn't an easy place to go. But we're just concentrating on our own game.”

Wayne Rooney could be on the bench to face West Ham after missing the Barcelona match with a hip injury.

Ferguson insists he will not rush the England striker back from injury as he does not want to hinder Rooney's chances of figuring in the Champions League final on May 21.

Nemanja Vidic will not feature against West Ham although the influential Serbia defender is likely to be available for the final league game of the season at Wigan Athletic.

Vidic also missed the Barcelona game after suffering concussion during last Saturday's 2-1 league defeat at Chelsea.

Ferguson has called on United fans to play their part in the club's title run in.

He said the atmosphere created at the Barcelona game was the best he had experienced at Old Trafford during his 21 years at the club.

“The atmosphere was fantastic on Tuesday,” he said.

“I don't think there has been a better atmosphere than that in my time here.”

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