[QODLink]
Football
Ferguson after a big favour
United manager hoping for a revenge mission by QPR boss Mark Hughes to prevent City winning the English title.
Last Modified: 07 May 2012 14:49
No love lost between Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini - but the United manager concedes his bitter rivals now have 'two hands on the trophy' [GETTY]

Only the most unlikely of turnarounds can now prevent Manchester City from beating Manchester United to the English Premier League title.

"They probably have two hands on the trophy,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.

City's 2-0 win at Champions League hopeful Newcastle means the league leaders effectively need only to beat struggling Queens Park Rangers in Sunday's final round to clinch their first championship since 1968.

Hot favourites

City have won 17 of their 18 home games and QPR have won just three of their 18 away games, so it is obvious why bookmakers now make the Blues a 1-9 favourite to hoist the trophy.

If City win, United will need to at least match their 17-year-old Premier League record 9-0 victory against Ipswich to overturn City's superior goal difference. Neither scenario is likely, even with QPR needing a point to be sure of avoiding relegation.

Ferguson said a collapse by City would rank alongside that of one of the most infamous losers in British sporting history.

Devon Loch was 40 yards from the winning post in horse racing's 1956 British Grand National when he collapsed, seemingly without reason.

"There could be a Devon Loch, you never know,'' Ferguson said.

"Stranger things have happened in this game of football. They're [City] red-hot favourites but we've won the title on three occasions on the last day and we don't mind doing it again. "

- Alex Ferguson

"Stranger things have happened in this game of football. They're red-hot favourites but we've won the title on three occasions on the last day and we don't mind doing it again.''

United's last-day opponent, Sunderland, have only lost four times at home this season, further complicating matters for the record 19-time champions.

Favour time

Ferguson has been left hoping that one of his former players can do him a favour.

Mark Hughes was sold by United in 1986 but Ferguson re-signed him two years later and was repaid with a hatful of goals, two of them clinching the Cup Winners Cup title against Barcelona in 1991.

Hughes was fired as manager of Manchester City in December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini despite losing just two matches that season, so Ferguson expects the man nicknamed "Sparky'' as a player to be especially motivated.

"QPR need a point and they're fighting for survival,'' Ferguson said.

"The whole future of the club could be resting on the game and I only wish Sparky was playing.

"But Mark knows his job all right. He was sacked by City in a very unethical way and he'll remember that.''

Mancini has spent the last few weeks playing down City's chances, apparently for fear of putting his squad under pressure. He finally conceded that his team are favourites for the title after Sunday's win over Newcastle.

"Maybe yes because it depends on us,'' Mancini said.

"If we beat QPR, we will be the champions. But at this moment, we can't think about this. We need to prepare very well for the next game, only this.

"I am excited because we are on the top, but it's not enough. One week more and if we play like we did today, we have a lot of chance to win.''

Source:
AP
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.