Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced Manchester United have the strength required to pursue a third successive Premier League title.
United entertain Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Monday night knowing the first two months of 2009 not only bring action on four fronts but also the games in hand that could see them close in on current pacesetters Liverpool and Chelsea.
Ferguson said: "There is an interesting challenge facing us but I am confident we can cope"
"We have not taken this on blindly. I have been planning for this pressure by creating a squad that gives me options and the manpower to make changes without weakening the team.
"Our pool of players is getting stronger, as the younger lads mature and come into the squad at a level where I can play them, knowing they will perform.
"We have a good strong squad and if we can go into the new year only a handful of points behind the leaders then we have a good chance of winning the Premier League again."
Ferguson has already expressed his hope the game is completed free of controversy after a number of spats in recent years.
Midfielder Paul Scholes endorses that opinion, even if he is not sure his manager's wishes will come true.
"There is a bit of needle in every game these days because the teams are so desperate to win," said Scholes.
"(Boro boss) Gareth Southgate is a winner by nature. He will want his team to win every game they play and to perform well. Our manager is the same - it is just the way it is."
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