Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson 'Expects' Treble Challenge?

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterFebruary 18, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12:  Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, listens to questions from the media during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester United at the Valdebebas training ground on February 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

The Premier League title race might be all but finished, but Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini are still competing on another front: making bold headlines in the press.

Ferguson's Manchester United lead the Premier League table by 15 points over Manchester City, the defending champions. With United also still competing in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, the Red Devils have a chance to repeat the historic treble of trophies from the 1998-99 season.

According to Ferguson, though, it's not just possible. It's expected. At least, that's the word from United defender Chris Smalling.

From The Independent:

The manager has stressed that he expects to go to the end in all three competitions.

The FA Cup is notoriously unpredictable. Luton reached the fifth round this year, which shows that anything can happen so there is no point looking too far ahead.

But our home form has been good and another victory can give us the impetus to kick on and get to another final.

This isn't all that surprising. After 26 years of Ferguson at United, we all know he's a master of both motivation and the media. If Smalling is saying something like this, there's a good chance Ferguson wanted it to come out.

United host Reading on Monday in the FA Cup fifth round. The winner advances to the quarterfinals.

Over at Manchester City, meanwhile, Mancini has claimed that he has been the best manager in England over the last 15 months. Mancini, who took over from Mark Hughes in 2009, led City to the Premier League title in 2011-12, a year after lifting the FA Cup in May 2011.

From BBC Sport:

"I won one Premier League, one FA Cup, one charity shield," said Mancini. "There is not another manager that's won like me in the last 15 months. I can do nothing but it is the reality."

Mancini is right that no other manager has won that combination of trophies in the last 15 months, but Roberto Di Matteo won both the Champions League and FA Cup with Chelsea last season before being fired in November 2012.

But Mancini is a smart manager too. He knows this kind of statement will rile up a rival like Ferguson, whose own trophy cabinet is packed.

But is Mancini right? And should Ferguson "expect" a treble this season, with so many matches left to play?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.