With the start of new Premier League season more than three weeks away, Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has already started the mind games by suggesting that Chelsea’s squad is too old to be considered realistic title contenders.
The Scot believes Liverpool and Arsenal are as much of a threat to United’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
“Chelsea are an experienced side and I don’t see outstanding progress coming from a team in their 30s,” he said.
“I wouldn’t write off Liverpool or Arsenal. It has been understated what Arsenal achieved last season.
“They suffered injuries at a bad time, Arsenal – in February they lost most of their midfield. Who is to say that it would not have been closer if Arsene Wenger had kept his players fit”
As for Chelsea, Ferguson believes it will be difficult for new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to improve the team with an aging group of players.
“I’m not concerned about Chelsea, I just don’t know how far that team has got to go,” he continued. “They have lots of experience and big-game temperament and in a sense Scolari is fortunate, joining a big club with a team of internationals.
“But it’s hard to see where there is going to be an improvement. Maybe they have reached a plateau – although perhaps that’s not the right word.”
Ferguson also revealed his concern over the role Wayne Rooney will fulfil for United.
“We need to define his role a bit better and I have to take some responsibility for that,” added Ferguson.
“I think he has sacrificed himself for the team, which says a lot about the lad because he never complained.
“We have played him wide and in other positions – he would play at centre-half if we asked him to.
“He may have benefited from having someone with more experience alongside him, that always happens with young strikers as he was never going to be the finished article at 22.
“We signed him for his potential, which is why we paid £26m for him. In a few years we’ll be saying that is really brilliant business.”