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Copy from Football Unlimited of 23/02/2004.
Manchester United's title aspirations have been bludgeoned by opponents brandishing only a wooden spoon. If, as looks increasingly likely, Arsenal are to reclaim the championship trophy, Sir Alex Ferguson should focus his inquest on how his side have surrendered five points against the Premiership's bottom clubs in Leeds and Wolves.
Between them the setback at Molineux and the solitary point against Leeds are acts that should be regarded as reckless by everyone at Old Trafford, particularly with a home defeat by Middlesbrough sandwiched in the middle.
United may be skilled escapologists but, given the seven-point gap behind Arsenal, and the differing form of England's best two sides, retaining the title might need an even more impressive feat of durability than that of last season when they were eight points adrift at one stage but with a game in hand.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 22/02/2004.
Sir Alex Ferguson questioning Arsenal's ability to handle the pressure, Roy Keane issuing his annual state of the nation address to criticise and belittle his team-mates - it must be that time of year again when Manchester United get down to the serious business of winning the title.
The timing of those two pronouncements last week owed nothing to coincidence and everything to the fact that there was a tacit acknowledgement within Old Trafford, and even their most optimistic followers, that their north London rivals were firmly in the driving seat at the top of the table.
By early afternoon yesterday, and following the latest in a series of unconvincing displays, concerns among Manchester United supporters should have extended well beyond takeover bids from racehorse and American football club owners.