Sir Alex up to old tricks but Man United’s title defence is over

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You can’t blame him for trying to keep Manchester United’s title flame burning in the face of defeat, but there is overwhelming statistical evidence to suggest Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest comments to the BBC are way off the mark.

Brilliant, wily, relentless and obtrusive are just some of the terms used to describe English football’s most decorated manager, who made a career out of toying with the fragilities of rival manager’s psyches.

Even in retirement it seems Ferguson still can’t resist the urge either.

However, suggesting his beloved United can defy odds of 80/1 to claim back the Premier League, is hardly likely to spark a Rafa Benitez-esque rant from new Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini anytime soon.

The Chillean will rightly be far more concerned about how his 19/20 title-favourites can shake off the 4/1 and 2/1-rated challenges of closest rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.

Juan Mata’s arrival may well hail an upturn in fortunes for the champions, but, in order to regain their crown the Red Devils would have to mount an unprecedented Premier League comeback.

After 22 games played, United find themselves 14 points adrift of Arsenal in seventh, having pickled together a particularly modest 37 points.

Only once in Premier League history (since the league was whittled down to 20 teams for the start of the 1995/96 season) have a team (Arsenal) clawed their way back from a 10+ point gap, with 16 games left to play.

That was when a fresh-faced Frenchman by the name of Arsene Wenger steered his new Gunners side to the 1997/98 title, having lagged 11 points behind Manchester United at this stage.

This amazing comeback also remains the one and only time a team has won the top-flight with a sub-40 points total at this point.

Nice try Sir Alex.

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