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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Man United will still win title - McClaren

Former England manager Steve McClaren still believes his old club Manchestern United will win the Premier League crown.

Manchester United remain on top, due to their vastly superior goal difference, despite a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge which left the clubs locked on 81 points with two games each to go.

But McClaren believes that his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, has the experience and know-how to get United across the finishing line.

'There's always pressure at Manchester United and people take their lead from the manager. He has the experience, the belief, the stature, the charisma, and he has won it before,' McClaren told BBC Radio.

'That's what the players look to, they'll look to a manager and other players who have done it before.'

Ferguson has been criticised for resting star players against Chelsea ahead of Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg with Barcelona but McClaren believes he was looking at the big picture.

'He (Ferguson) knew they had three opportunities to win the league. They have let one slip and they will make sure they don't waste the other two.

'With West Ham and Wigan still to play, I believe United are still favourites.

'They are phenomenal at home, and when they have to go to Wigan, they (Wigan) will be safe.

'If it goes down to the wire they (United) have the experience and character to come through that.

'Chelsea have to go to Newcastle. But look at how Newcastle are playing, and they will have 52,000 people there behind them. They will want to win and that means it is not an easy one for Chelsea.

'Sir Alex, this week, will be focused and relaxed. That is the key thing, not to panic.

'United did not get the luck yesterday, but they will get it in the future. This is where a manager comes into his own and earns the money.

'I think they are still favourites. I must give credit for Chelsea's great run but I do think it is still United's title. They hold all the cards with two games they should win.'

On the prospect of Rio Ferdinand being made England's new captain, McClaren explained the thinking behind his decision when in charge of the national team to appoint John Terry.

McClaren said: 'John Terry was a simple choice, he was my kind of captain. Terry was captain of Chelsea, they were winning the Premier League and he was on the top of his game.

'He has character and the players respect and listen to him in the dressing room.

'It just followed on from the great job he was doing at Chelsea to do the same with England. But other people have different opinions.

'An international captain is very important. He is your eyes and ears in the dressing room and can help you nip in the bud any problems before they could explode.

'It is important the captain is a leader and has great character in the dressing room. There are many who have been captain and cannot handle the responsibility.

'Terry will never lose what he has and his vocal side. But you need several leaders that drive the others on.'