Ferguson says his team looks ready for a shot at the title

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson claimed his side are ready to challenge for the English Premiership title after watching them beat Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park.

Goals from Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy clinched victory for the Old Trafford club and left Ferguson eyeing the future with far more optimism that his opposite number Graeme Souness.

Ferguson, whose side are yet to concede a goal, said: “There is a look about us that we’ve had in the past when going for titles. There’s a great feeling among the players.

“This is an important result for us. Newcastle were very determined and difficult to break down.
But we improved our passing in the second half and created a lot of good chances.”

Rooney, who scored one and created the other, said: “We knew that Newcastle were under a lot of pressure coming into this game. They certainly made it hard for us in the first hour, but we got a goal on the break and that put us in control.”

Ferguson’s side had to combat a battling show from Newcastle, who slumped to another defeat because of two blunders by Jean Alain Boumsong.

The defeat increased the pressure on manager Souness, whose side have picked up only one point and still not scored a Premiership goal this season.

Souness failed to turn up for the post-match press conference, but his assistant Alan Murray said: “Don’t read anything into that. Graeme is at his best when his back is against the wall.

“He is a very strong character and will handle the situation as well as anybody.

“We are intelligent and know the situation and are doing everything to change it.”

Murray was dismayed that Emre and Kieron Dyer had to be substituted because of injuries before half-time.

“There are a lot of positives for us from this game. We matched United until we lost our key players,” he added.

Both players suffered a recurrence of injuries which had ruled them out of Newcastle’s last game at Bolton and Murray admitted: “It was a calculated risk to play them.

“Both trained during the week, but it is hard to replicate match situations. It didn’t work out for us but we looked a formidable outfit while they were on the pitch.”

Boumsong was badly at fault for both goals, although Murray said: “He has been big enough to hold up his hands and that’s a credit to him.

“We have said we win as a team and we lose as a team. Now we’ll regroup and go on from here.” - Sapa-AFP