Fergie: Chelsea will be up there

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted it would be an incredible achievement for Andre Villas-Boas to win the Barclays Premier League title in his first season as Chelsea boss.

The former Porto chief became the Premier League's youngest manager when, aged just 33, he was appointed by Roman Abramovich in the summer to replace axed Italian Carlo Ancelotti. He has made a decent fist of his first five games, securing 10 points and a Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, but he faces his biggest test so far at United on Sunday.

And Ferguson is certain Chelsea will be a major threat to the Old Trafford outfit this term and he said: "That somebody so young could go and do that would be incredible. You can't dispute that. They will be there at the end of the season though, there is no doubt about that."

Villas-Boas' youthfulness contrasts sharply with Ferguson, who will celebrate his 70th birthday on New Year's Eve.

However, the Scot is not alone. Fellow top flight managers Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson are also in their 60s and England coach Fabio Capello is 65.

So, whilst Ferguson has praise for the manner in which Villas-Boas has handled his introduction to English football, he is equally pleased the value of his fellow old stagers is being recognised.

"If you go back a few years, top teams were giving jobs to players who were just finishing their careers," Ferguson said. "That was quite surprising but it seemed to be a trend to have younger managers.

"That's changed nowadays and experience is coming to the fore again. Young managers have more of a future. Their time will come.

"I am pleased clubs are not ignoring the values of experienced managers."

Plenty of changes are anticipated for United, with the majority of those left out of Wednesday's draw with Benfica set to return.

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