Title race makes it 'dream league' – Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the five-team scrap for this season's title "the dream league".

Dropped points for Manchester United and Arsenal this week have offered Chelsea and Tottenham a way back into a race that had appeared beyond them.

With Manchester City also bang in contention, it is shaping up to be a compelling championship battle that may not do much for the heart rates of those involved but will only heighten the interest which surrounds the Premier League worldwide.

"It is there for everyone to win or lose," he said.

"So many times over the last few years, people have spoken about the top four when there has been one of those periods where we are all within a couple of points of each other and said this could be a really exciting league.

"But by the end of the year, two teams are contesting it.

"That could happen again this season but on the other hand, if it were to be five or six involved right until the end, it would be fantastic for the league.

"It is the kind of league we dream of."

The staggering nature of this season's competition is certainly at odds with La Liga, which is often held up as the most obvious challenger to the Premier League's popularity.

"In every set of games this season, you see a surprise result," he said.

"We were disappointed to lose a late goal at Birmingham on Tuesday, then the next day Arsenal drop two points against a Wigan team with 10 men and Wolves go to Anfield and win. You are going to see a lot of these results because it is such a tough league.

"There are five or six teams challenging at the top of the league at the moment but if you look at other countries, Barcelona and Real Madrid are normally challenging for the Spanish league, it's Bayern Munich and one other in Germany and in the Italian league it is Milan or Juventus.

"That is why it is so exciting."

Ferguson's assertion is not strictly accurate. Bayern for example are currently fifth in the Bundesliga, 14 points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund.

The point is pertinent enough though, partly because so many middle-ranking teams have performed above expectations at times this term.

One of them are United's New Year's Day opponents West Brom who, while having slipped a little bit recently, already boast a win at Arsenal and an Old Trafford draw amongst the highlights of their return to the top flight.

"West Brom have been a refreshing team this year," said Ferguson.

"They play the right way, they are a good threat and their goal tally has been very good.

"It is perfectly correct for us to expect a tough game."

Those dropped points to the Baggies in October are the only ones United have lost on home soil this term.

On their travels, it has been a different matter entirely. One win from eight away games is not a particularly impressive effort and unexpected for a team that, with matches in hand, are strong favourites to reclaim their crown.

Tuesday was yet another example of points being tossed away, although Ferguson remains mystified as to how referee Lee Mason ruled Lee Bowyer's 89th-minute equaliser at St Andrew's legal given Nikola Zigic clambered over Rio Ferdinand to get to the ball and then used an arm to direct towards his team-mate.

Nevertheless, the result allowed United to enter 2011 undefeated, although Ferguson is not convinced even that constitutes an advantage.

"It is difficult to say whether you get any momentum from not losing," he reflected. "I have not addressed it at any point, although I would do if we only had three games to go.

"You don't expect to go through the whole season undefeated, so have to handle losses.

"Certainly, a defeat is not going to put you out of the race. It is still going to be closely fought."

United star Wayne Rooney has revealed he is already planning for life as a manager.

The 25-year-old confirmed he has started to take his coaching badges, and has no fears about beginning a new career on the bottom rung of the ladder. "I would like to be a manager. That would be my ambition when I finish playing," said Rooney.

"You see the players who have played for Sir Alex and gone on to be good managers. I am hoping to do that one day.

"But I wouldn't like to follow the manager here, or start at an Everton or Manchester United.

"I want to learn something about the lower leagues and build a reputation that way rather than just jumping into a big club.

"It is not right if someone goes in and gets a big job with no experience."