Manchester: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted on Thursday that Champions League-chasing Newcastle can still provide another dramatic twist in the Premier League title race.

Newcastle, fresh from a fine 2-0 victory at Chelsea on Wednesday, host leaders Manchester City on Sunday before United entertain mid-table Swansea later in the day.

United were eight points clear at the summit last month but City drew level on points after defeating Ferguson's side, who trail Roberto Mancini's City on goal difference with just two games remaining, 1-0 on Monday.

It is City's title to lose but Ferguson was boosted by Newcastle's victory at Stamford Bridge and believes Alan Pardew's side can surprise the leaders on the penultimate weekend of the league campaign.

"They (City) have got to win at Newcastle, that's the challenge for them," Ferguson told reporters in Manchester.

"Newcastle, as we know, is a very difficult place to go to and they're playing well. They lost incredibly to Wigan by four goals and then galvanised themselves to go and win 2-0 at Chelsea.

"As everyone knows, winning at Chelsea is a very difficult job. We haven't done it for ten years so their form is good and it will not be an easy game."

Newcastle, who start the weekend fifth in the table and just one point behind third-placed Arsenal, are well placed to qualify for next season's Champions League.

And Ferguson believes the incentive of securing a place at European football's top table could inspire the Magpies to stop City from winning.

"Newcastle are fighting for that position in the top four and they have a chance," he added.

"They are a point behind Arsenal and have the same number of points as Tottenham with two games left. It's an exciting end of the season for all the teams involved in that."

With the Newcastle game starting early, United will know exactly where they stand in the title race by the time they kick-off against Swansea.

City entertain relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers on the final day and a victory for Mancini's side over Newcastle should be enough to all but win the title.

Mancini claims United remain favourites, but Ferguson said: "What do you think? They've got two games left. If they win the two games they've won the league.

"Everyone will be watching it (Newcastle v City) from a United perspective hoping it works for us, you cannot avoid it.

"But we've still got to prepare for our own game don't forget. We're not going to be neglecting that part."

Meanwhile, Ferguson has welcomed Roy Hodgson's appointment as England manager and believes the 64-year-old West Brom boss is ideal for the role.

"I've always said for that England manager's job you need to be in your 60s without doubt," he said.

"You need to be going into that job with all the experience behind you.

"I hope he does well."



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