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9 Agustus 2008

Ferguson Laughs Off Scolari Threat

Ferguson, who pipped the Blues to the Premier and Champions League titles last season, is confident his side can repeat the feat, despite claims to the contrary from the media that this may be Chelsea's time.

The Pensioners have replaced the relatively unproven Avram Grant with World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose credentials are exceptional and pedigree respected worldwide.

Sir Alex remains confident that, despite having not made any signings this summer, his squad has what it takes to retain its titles and has laughed off suggestions Scolari's experience will prove the difference in this upcoming campaign.

"I read that Scolari is more experienced than me. What have I been doing for the last 34 years? I must have missed something or been asleep somewhere," the Scot sarcastically quipped.

"They are saying because of Scolari's experience Chelsea are going to win the league. I do not understand that.

"I have exactly the same squad as last season and I have to be confident it is not deteriorating, I cannot see how that can possibly be the case.

"I would have concerns if my team was full of players the same age as Ryan Giggs. But it is not.

"In people like Anderson, Nani and [Carlos] Tevez, we will see a lot of improvement.

"And the older ones have looked after themselves. Their concentration levels are still good and so is their desire.

"If anything, Paul Scholes' passing is the best it has ever been.

"It will not be easy. You expect Arsenal and Liverpool to improve and you would think Chelsea, with their experience, will be there.

"But I have to feel this team can defend its title."

Concerns have heightened over the last week as the Red Devils are having to deal with an increasingly long list of absentees, but Ferguson has clarified that he is not overly concerned by the situation.

"At this particular time, we are not in the best position fitness-wise but it doesn't concern me unduly," he said assuringly.

"There is a great quality in the squad and a great enthusiasm. A lot of them are exhilarated by winning the European Cup."

He also seemed more optimistic than he had previously been regarding the fitness of Wayne Rooney, hopeful that he will be fit for the first game of the Premier League season against Newcastle United. "The medical reports from Wayne [show] he is clear of the virus. He has returned to training and hopefully we can get him ready for Newcastle," he said.

Brian O'Ryan,