Tuesday, December 5, 2023

ManUnited stars confident of crossing finishing line

SoccerNews in English Premier League 11 May 2008


Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre has rejected taunts from Chelsea's Michael Ballack that Sir Alex Ferguson's squad are experiencing the 'longest week of their lives' ahead of Sunday's Premier League decider against Wigan.

United will be crowned Premier League champions for the tenth time under Sir Alex Ferguson if they emerge from their trip to nearby Wigan with a result as good as, or better than, Chelsea's final score against Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

Having closed a five-point gap over the last two weeks to move level with United on goal difference at the top of the table, Chelsea believe they have the momentum going into the final day of the league season.

But with the two clubs also due to clash in the Champions League Final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, United's French defender Silvestre insists that the reigning champions are on course to wrap up the league title against Wigan.

Silvestre, recently back to full fitness following a six-month knee injury lay-off, said: “It's great to be at training knowing that you are working to try and win the title and Champions League.

“There is a great atmosphere among the players because we're so close to success and everybody is enjoying it. With the sun shining outside as well, it is a great time for us!

“We kept our cool against West Ham last week and now we need to do the same at Wigan. Scoring early would be ideal, but we all believe we'll go on to win the league. I always knew that we would do well this season and go far in both competitions.”

Wigan, managed by former United captain Steve Bruce, have pulled clear of the relegation zone in recent weeks and last Saturday's 2-0 win at Aston Villa confirmed their status in the Premier League next season.

Since winning promotion to the top flight in 2005, Wigan have faced United six times in the league and cup and lost on each occasion, but recent draws against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea underline their improvement under Bruce, who succeeded the sacked Chris Hutchings as manager last November.

But with Bruce's links to United, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has moved to quell any fears from Chelsea that his team will be an easy touch for United this weekend.

Whelan said: “There is nothing we would like better than to roll Manchester United over on Sunday, but they are used to the pressure, they are a good side and it's going to be really hard for us to beat them.

“Make no doubt about it, though, if we can beat United we will do it. Our lads are relaxed and confident and they are up for it big style.

“United have supporters all over the world and there will probably 20,000 of them outside the ground on Sunday hoping to get in!

“We know that we could make ourselves the most disliked club in the world if we stop United winning the title, but we don't mind that because we are going to give it a real go.

“We are on the centre stage of the Premier League worldwide this weekend and we want to show people what Wigan are about.”



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