Alan Pardew

Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged Manchester City hold the advantage in the title race after Manchester United twice surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Everton. United head the Premier League table by three points with three games remaining, having led City by an eight point margin a little over two weeks ago.

The United manager admitted next Monday's 162nd Manchester derby at Eastlands was the most important of his 26-year Old Trafford career following City's victory at Wolves which increased the pressure on the defending champions.

"We've given them the initiative, there is no doubt about that," Manchester United boss Ferguson said on Sunday. All eyes are now on the next Monday's derby but former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes City's trip to Newcastle on 6 May could prove more decisive in determining the outcome of this season's title race.

"City must still go to Newcastle after [Manchester United meet City] - and Alan Pardew's team are playing the best football in the country." Redknapp told the Daily Mail.

"It seems the pendulum swung back City's way on Sunday; win every game and the title is theirs. Teams in the resurgent North East will have a say in the destiny of this title."

The former Liverpool star added: "Manchester United have a difficult trip themselves when they go to Sunderland on the final day."

Alan Pardew has attracted widespread acclaim this season after assembling an exciting team blending youthful exuberance with solid European experience, that has seen his Newcastle side make a convincing push for a Champions League berth.

Saturday's convincing win against Stoke saw them move within three points of third-place Arsenal and put daylight between them and Tottenham and Chelsea in the race for fourth. And Pardew believes the prospect of Champions League football would almost certainly convince his key players not to leave St. James' Park in the summer.

"I had a very good side at West Ham, but I've not had the camaraderie of this group," Pardew told the Telegraph.

"I hope that means the players we have got all want to stay and we can do it all again next year. Clubs will look at these players now and try and take them off our hands. It might be that belief and love they have for each other will keep them here.

"I am hoping that we get to such a point where there is not really many places above where they can go. That is what we really want."