FOOTBALL: Contenders for top sport

KNUTSFORD boss John Ferguson has warned Reds’ rivals not to rule out the prospect of his side winning a third successive Cheshire League title.

The men from Manchester Road will not occupy first place in the Division One standings at Christmas for the first time in two years, but the manager – who returned to the club in October following Chris Adams’ departure – is not worried.

He said: “It’s a cliché, but the league was never won in January.

“There are a lot of teams [at the top] who still have to play each other and will slip up, so we want to put a run together and push on as much as we can. There’s a lot to play for.”

Ferguson, former manager Paul Schofield’s right hand man when Knutsford finished first in each of the past two seasons, has settled in quickly since taking sole charge.

Reds’ form on the pitch has been patchy – two wins, draws and defeats from six Division One matches before Saturday – but he plans to strengthen the squad to address that.

“The majority of the squad I worked with is still here – we’ve lost one or two who went to play at a higher level and obviously they’re difficult to replace,” he said.

“I think we are a couple of players short of being a really strong side that can challenge consistently.

“They’re still trying to play the same brand of football. I was involved in a lot of the coaching previously, and I’m a believer you should play in a style that suits the players.

“We’ve been playing well but have not been clinical enough; sooner or later though I feel we’re going to give a team a good hiding.”

A UEFA A licence holder, Ferguson worked for more than a decade with junior players at Manchester City’s academy. His practice sessions in Knutsford are no different.

He said: “I was lucky enough to spend 12 years there “I try to treat the lads at Knutsford in exactly the same way I treated the elite performers – every session should be of the highest standard.”

Whaley Bridge, fourth in the table when the Guardian went to press, visit Manchester Road next.

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