| LONDON, March 17
LONDON, March 17 If Manchester United win a
record 19th English League title this season, nobody could
accuse them of doing it the easy way after another week of
setbacks including a touchline ban for manager Alex Ferguson.
The 69-year-old United coach will be in the dugout for the
last time for five matches when United play Bolton Wanderers at
Old Trafford on Saturday (1500 GMT) in a possible rehearsal of
the FA Cup final.
United, attempting to repeat the Champions League, Premier
League and FA Cup treble they won in 1999, are likely to be
without defenders Rio Ferdinand and possibly Nemanja Vidic, as
well as John O'Shea and Rafael da Silva who were injured in
Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Olympique Marseille.
Darren Fletcher, Michael Owen, Park Ji-sung, Anderson and
Jonny Evans were all unavailable for the game and might not be
ready to step in on Saturday.
On the plus side, Javier Hernandez continued to establish
himself as a key player with both goals.
"He has adjusted to the physical part very well and he is
lasting 90 minutes now," Ferguson said.
"His pace and movement is helping us. He is a real handful.
You see the first goal tonight -- the boy's movement is
Victory for United against a Bolton side they could meet in
the Cup Final at Wembley would keep them at least three points
ahead of the chasing pack, led by second-placed Arsenal who
visit relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion on Saturday
The other games affecting the title run-in feature
third-placed Manchester City at improving Chelsea (Sunday 1600)
and fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur hosting relegation-threatened
West Ham United (Saturday 1245).
Victory for the champions at Stamford Bridge would move them
above City and into third place for the first time for three
months, while Spurs need to beat the Hammers to maintain their
hopes of finishing in the top four.
This week's events typify Manchester United's curious
season. They set a club-record unbeaten run of 29 league matches
before losing 2-1 to Wolves on Feb. 5.
They have lost their last two league games to Chelsea and
Liverpool and despite not playing particularly well have led the
table since mid-December to stay on course to eclipse the record
of 18 titles they share with Liverpool.
Despite the off-field ups and downs of their season, United
continue to set the pace but they cannot let up for a moment.
Arsenal are breathing down their necks, three points behind
with a game in hand after a dismal fortnight in which they have
gone out of three competitions.
(Editing by Ed Osmond, To comment on this story email