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Friday, January 2, 2009
Sir Alex flummoxed by fixture list

Sir Alex Ferguson has threatened to send a Manchester United representative to Premier League headquarters this summer to monitor the domestic fixture calendar being drafted.

Ferguson has repeatedly claimed the league has been "handicapped'' this season in a bid to stop them sauntering to a third successive title.

Although the Premier League have rejected such a notion out of hand, Ferguson can think of no other explanation for his team having to face all last season's top 10 away from home in the first half of the campaign and find themselves on their travels after every Champions League game so far.

At least that run comes to an end in February, with both legs of the Inter Milan knock-out round tie being followed by home games against Portsmouth and Liverpool respectively.

But Ferguson is still not happy. And he is determined the same scenario will not unfold next summer.

"I have been saying for a few months we have been handicapped by the Premier League fixture list,'' said Ferguson.

"They tell me it is not planned but I have my doubts.

"I am not saying what they do down there but next year we will be sending someone to see how it works I can assure you because I just don't understand how you can get the fixtures like that.''

It leaves Ferguson desperately hoping FA Cup replays can be avoided to give United enough breathing space to navigate two outstanding fixtures in their Premier League programme against Wigan and Fulham and put some pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea, who come to Old Trafford on January 11.

The Scot would therefore have been relieved that Wigan's FA Cup tie at Tottenham tonight resulted in a positive outcome as it ensures Steve Bruce's team are free to play at Old Trafford on January 14 if United are not held by Southampton on Sunday.

"It has been a difficult period for us,'' he said.

"I felt if we could get within three or four points of the leading team at this moment in time I would be delighted.

"Obviously the games in hand have not allowed that.

"You have to win games of football but they are two home matches, which you would expect us to have a good chance of narrowing the gap to get where I wanted us to be.''

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