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23 Juli 2008

Essien Bites Back At Fergie

Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday broke what had effectively become a summer ceasefire by claiming the Blues have too many players in their 30s to achieve anything special during the upcoming season.

But Essien thinks otherwise, insisting that veteran midfielders Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Deco are of such a calibre that their very presence improves the playing squad as a whole.

“Players like Ballack, Lampard and Deco are world class,” the Ghanaian midfielder said in The Sun. “They can change a game in an instant.

“When you are working with them on a regular basis, you improve every day as a player and as a team.”

United will be defending two titles over the next 10 months after edging out Chelsea to claim both the Premier League and Champions League crowns last term.

Most would be expecting much of the same this time around. Essien, however – whether to rankle or through genuine belief – insisted that the previous campaign’s also-rans will instead be the Blues’ main challengers.

“I don’t think United will be our principal rivals,” he added. “Liverpool, Arsenal and a lot of other clubs are signing good players.”

Mike Maguire