Sir Alex Ferguson fears 'one bad week' will cost Manchester United their chance of glory this season.
United head towards their final game with Stoke still nursing a chance of becoming the first team to win four league titles on the trot. Even a victory against Tony Pulis' men will not be enough unless Wigan become only the third side this season to take points off Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The "hope" Ferguson expresses is without conviction, and there seems little doubt United will have cause to lament the disastrous eight-day period in which a home defeat to Chelsea split the shattering disappointment of a Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.
The United boss said: "A bad week might have cost us everything."
He added: "The biggest disappointment was the European Cup. It's an absolute travesty because we were the best team. We had a good opportunity to win it but we took the disappointment into the first half against Chelsea."
In fact, it looks like the following weekend's failure to beat Blackburn at Ewood Park, when the European hangover was at its fiercest signalled the death knell to United's championship hopes.
Having responded to news of Chelsea's victory at Liverpool last weekend with admirable resilience, which proved enough to defeat Sunderland, Ferguson is demanding similar fortitude this weekend, knowing at some stage in proceedings, the odds are he will be hearing some very bad news.
"There are TV people standing in front of you, people beside you and the crowd reaction sometimes tells you," said Ferguson as he reflected on the pointless task of trying to ignore events at Stamford Bridge.
In truth, Ferguson does not hold out much hope, even if Latics chief Roberto Martinez feels the situation will bring out the best in his players.
"It's pointless going into the game expecting anything from Chelsea in our favour," said Ferguson. "I have confidence that Wigan will do their best and they will try.
"There's pressure on both us and Chelsea because we both need to win but I don't know what's going on in Chelsea's minds - all I know is that in this situation we just hope."
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