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Fergie abandons hope of Chelsea collapse

Manchester United boss has finally abandoned all hope of Premiership leaders Chelsea suffering a title collapse.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 22:01 IST

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has finally abandoned all hope of Premiership leaders Chelsea suffering a title collapse.

Chelsea's hard-fought 2-0 win over Portsmouth last weekend convinced Ferguson that United's championship challenge is now a lost cause.

United are currently level on points with nearest challengers Liverpool and have a game in hand on Rafael Benitez's side, 15 points behind Chelsea.

"We have accepted the situation," Ferguson said.

"Chelsea are not going to fall away.

"Even last weekend we wondered whether Portsmouth might get something because they were struggling and fighting for their lives. But then Frank Lampard scores again and it just changed the whole picture.

"Chelsea's strength is that they do not concede. That is what makes them such a formidable outfit so now the challenge for us all is to finish second."

Chelsea's limitless ability to spend Roman Abramovich's millions threatens to create a gulf United have no hope of bridging.

And, with talk of German star Michael Ballack being close to completing a move to Stamford Bridge on a 120,000-pound-a-week ($211,000) contract, it is difficult to see how United can possibly prevent Chelsea enjoying a similar period of dominance as Ferguson enjoyed in the 1990s.

"Obviously we have to make sure they don't dominate," said Ferguson whose side are now three seasons without a title triumph.

"There is a possibility of achieving that because we have an emerging team. But it is a big challenge because we know they have fantastic resources financially.

"Everyone expects them to get rid of three or four fringe players this summer and bring in another four or five.

"It would not be a complete evolution but there would be a change in personnel which keeps things fresh. It seems that is the way they are looking to operate."

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 22:01 IST