Sir Alex Ferguson will offer Manchester United’s fringe, young and reserve players a chance to impress the Old Trafford faithful as the Scot’s team takes on Besiktas in the Champions League Wednesday night. Ferguson, who is without injured Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, John O’Shea, Jonny Evans for group B matchday five game, will bring in youngsters to take the baton.
The United manager will start attacking youngsters Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda against the Turkish outfit, with doubts surrounding Dimitar Berbatov’s fitness and Wayne Rooney rested.
“I will be making changes (against Besiktas). Not a lot, but enough just to freshen it up,” Ferguson said.
“It’s a problem keeping players happy, but everyone has that when you have a squad of players. We use the League Cup for that and, if we can qualify early enough in the (Champions League) group, we can then use the likes of Welbeck.
“He will definitely play (against Besiktas) and Macheda too probably. They are the ones that need to be challenged. They’ve reached a point, and it happens in football, when a footballer has the ability to be a top player and you recognise that.”
“You have to give them the challenge. If you don’t, they lose the scent. But this club has been good at recognising that over the years.
“That’s the nature of football. A young player turns the corner and takes someone’s job.”
United’s place in the knockout stages of the competition is assured, although the prize for topping the group is a potentially easier tie in the next phase. Despite this, Ferguson intends to use Darron Gibson in the centre of midfield and Gabriel Obertan on the left-wing as the Scot aims to cope with the loss of so many injured players.
Obertan, who has impressed supporters with his pace and trickery since a £3 million move from Bordeaux in the summer, has another opportunity to displace the consistently disappointing Nani in United’s attacking quartet.
In addition, Rafael Da Silva will feature at right-back, while Ji-Sung Park will play some part in the match after recovering from an injury that has kept the South Korean out for several weeks.
Ferguson though still expects United to win the match and top group B, with a fixture against a group runner-up in round two the reward for victory on Wednesday night.
“We want to win the group,” added Ferguson.
“Their (Besiktas) form has been transformed in the last six matches. They have won them all and they are in very good form.
“It’s a good fixture in that we are already through. It means I can try one or two things. We could easily have an absolute non-event game, but we will try and challenge the younger players at the back.”
Ferguson is as hungry as ever to win the Champions League – which would take a third final in-a-row – with the pain of last season’s final defeat to Barcelona vivid in the memory. It’s an achievement that the Scot feels was overlooked in the aftermath of the comprehensive loss to Los Cules .Indeed, last season’s opponents face an uphill task to qualify for the knockout stages after losing to Rubin Kazan in matchday four.
“Barcelona could be out tonight and that shows how tough it is to retain the European Cup, as we nearly did last season,” said Ferguson.
“Maybe our achievement has been underestimated because you see how difficult Barcelona are finding it. But if Rubin Kazan with the game, you would not be happy facing Barcelona or Inter in second place.
“But Barcelona are such a good team. They were my favourites to win it at the start of the competition.
“I think there are one or two more difficult groups than we anticipated. The one with Rubin Kazan, Barca, Dynamo Kiev, Barcelona and Inter Milan is a real group of death.
“If Rubin Kazan win against Kiev and Inter and Barca draw, they could both be under the cosh.
“Real Madrid and AC Milan in the same group is difficult, Bayern Munich are struggling, and if Fiorentina beat Lyon, then that’s another big team out in Liverpool.”
With Liverpool’s form as it is, that’s unfair on Debrecen!