Sir Alex Ferguson has reminded his Manchester United players not to lose their focus as the Premier League title race approaches Sunday's D-day.
Although there is one round of matches still to be played after Chelsea have been to Liverpool and United travel to Sunderland, in all probability, this will be the decisive weekend. If Chelsea win, only lowly Wigan will have to be beaten for the championship to be secured. Should United emerge from super Sunday on top, Stoke will have to be dismissed at Old Trafford.
Little wonder therefore that so much focus has been trained on Liverpool's desire for a victory that could effectively eclipse their long-standing record of 18 league titles. "Sunderland are in good form," said Ferguson. "It is one thing saying we hope Liverpool do us a turn but Sunderland will be doing their best."
He added: "It is their last home game and we have got to match them.
"They are hitting form at the moment. Darren Bent has had a great season, Frazier Campbell is doing very well for them and Kenwyne Jones is a real handful in the air. We know what we are facing."
Ferguson also knows he has never lost a managerial battle of wits with his former captain Steve Bruce, who revealed earlier this week the United boss was given the nickname 'Ayatollah' during his days at Old Trafford.
"He certainly did not say it to my face," smiled Ferguson, when told of Bruce's comments.
With Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand likely to return after groin injuries, Ferguson should at least have some selection options.
Given the backdrop, some Liverpool fans are openly hoping for another defeat to prevent more torture in an already dreadful season. Ferguson is confident such demands will go unheeded.
"I am confident they will do their maximum," he said. "Great clubs don't throw their history and traditions away for one game. They have been in 11 European finals. They have won 18 titles. That is a fantastic history. You don't throw that away. The fans know that too."
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