Sir Alex Ferguson will defy the Premier League and Blackpool’s relegation rivals to put Manchester United’s interests first as the Reds close out the domestic season on Sunday. With the Champions League final less than a week away, Ferguson will field a side of fringe players against Ian Holloway’s relegation-threatened side, despite the threat of a Premier League fine.
It’s a decision for which Ferguson has few apologies with Barcelona able to field reserve sides in the club’s final three La Liga outings. But with up to nine full internationals in the side, Ferguson expects his men to beat Blackpool and end any potential argument with the Premier League over fielding a weakened side.
Ferguson has previously fielded experimental sides in games crucial to relegation-threatened sides, including United’s 1-0 loss to West Ham United at Old Trafford in 2007 and the Reds’ narrow victory over Hull City in 2009.
“Obviously everybody expects me to leave players out and that will be the case,” Ferguson said on Friday.
“I have to think about next week, I have to juggle the balls and make sure I get the right mix and keep the right energies for Barcelona. There are players who need a game anyway. Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Anderson will all play. So will Berbatov, Evra and Van der Sar.
“We’ll do our fairest to make sure there’s no criticism of the club. The only thing you could be criticised for is if you lose a game and it affects other teams. That’s when you should be put under scrutiny for the team you picked.
“Against Hull [in 2009] we played all the young players and we won 1-0, so there was no reason to criticise the selection on that occasion. This time it will be the same again. We have to make sure we win.”
Whatever the team selection, or indeed final result, United’s players will pick up the Premier League trophy after the game. It will provoke a party that is saddened only by retirements of Red legends. While Edwin van der Sar will play his last ever match at Old Trafford there is an increasing belief that Paul Scholes will also hang up his boots. Although Ferguson confirmed a new contract has been put to the 36-year-old midfielder, the player’s reticence is widely understood at Old Trafford.
Two of Scholes’ successors, Anderson and Darron Gibson, may play in central midfield, although Darren Fletcher is also set to start on the long road towards full fitness. The Scot is an outside bet for the Champions League final, although with barely 90 minutes reserve football behind him after two months out with a mystery virus Fletcher’s role is more likely to be consigned to the United bench.
Meanwhile, Ferguson will select van der Sar, with the 40-year-old Dutchman having missed United’s draw with Blackburn Rovers last weekend. The ‘keeper has just two matches to play before bringing down the curtain on a wonderful career that has taken him from Ajax to United, via Juventus and Fulham.
“He has been fantastic. Absolutely sensational,” added Ferguson.
“Edwin’s professionalism and dedication have been fabulous. A goalkeeper’s training is completely different from an outfield player. It involves diving about the goalmouth all the time, saving shots and blocks. It is hard to imagine a normal person being able to do that when they were over 40. But he is special. He has something inside him.
“Some people have a certain quality that involves them needing to be a winner all the time. That is what Edwin has been. He has had a great career. He has won four titles with us, Wembley will be his fifth European Cup final and he has more caps than anyone else in Holland. It has been a fantastic career and he is going out at the very top.”
Ahead of van der Sar, Ferguson is likely to field a largely second-string back-four, although Patrice Evra may play after missing two matches with a hamstring problem. Wes Brown, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans will probably make up the defensive unit.
Meanwhile, both Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández will sit out United’s final Premier League game of the season, affording top goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov a rare start. The Bulgarian is level with former Red Carlos Tevez in the Premier League scoring charts but has rarely started since Hernández’ emergence in the past three months.
“Javier Hernandez has made it difficult for me to put Dimitar above him,” Ferguson added.
“His performance levels, goals, freshness and pace are fantastic. Dimitar understands that. He never complains. He will play on Sunday and hopefully he will be the top goalscorer.”
Blackpool can win, draw or lose and still be relegated depending on other teams’ results and, perhaps understandably, Holloway has few concerns with United fielding a second-string side. The Blackpool manager had threatened to resign after the Premier League fined his side £25,000 for making 10 changes against Aston Villa earlier this season.
Relegation rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn face each other in the Midlands, Birmingham City face Tottenham Hotspur in London and Wigan Athletic go to Stoke City,
“I believe we can do it, whoever they [United] put out,” said Holloway.
“Maybe the main man up there has written a story that would probably beat Cinderella. All that matters is the dignity, the pride we’ve showed, getting back on track. That’s four games unbeaten, and anyone who’s seen the last four games can tell that Blackpool are back and looking like we did at the start of the season. That was really important to us.
“Blow me down with this fairytale we’re all on, this story that has been unfolding for the last two years. We’ve got to go to Manchester United and probably get a win, and that might not even be enough. I believe it will be, though, because Wolves are at home to Blackburn.”
The Blackpool manager has a full squad from which to choose and may go with the side that beat Bolton Wanderers last weekend.
Meanwhile, for United the party can begin in earnest, even though many of the players who brought a 19th domestic title to Old Trafford will sit out the game. For two – Scholes and van der Sar – it may well be a sad farewell.
Premier League. Old Trafford, Manchester. 22 May 2011, 4pm.
United – 442 – van der Sar; Brown, Evans, Smalling, Evra; Obertan, Anderson, Fletcher, Nani; Berbatov, Owen. Subs from: Kuzsazck, Rafael da Silva, Gibson, O’Shea, Fabio da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, OShea, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.
Blackpool – 442 – Gilks; Crainey, Eardley, Evatt, Baptiste; Southern, Vaughan, Adam, Puncheon; Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell
Subs from: Cathcart, Beattie, Ormerod, Kingson, Cathcart, Phillips, Reid, Harewood, Ormerod, Beattie.
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant referees: Peter Kirkup & Dean Mohareb
Fourth official: Mike Jones
United – WWLWWD
Blackpool – LLDDDW
54 thoughts on “Party begins as Fergie leaves plenty in reserve”
So what if that is a weaker team than normal…. it’s still a very strong one and, were the FA truly impartial, then there should be no problems
Hey Ed, don`t you know that Smalling plays as the right central defender as Evans is the successor of Vida ^^
Greetz from the German Red 😉
I bet fergie gives in to wayne yet again and plays him
The full squad now has to be given to the FA at the start of the season. If they are good enough to make the squad, they are good enough to play any match and the FA can Fcuk right off if they go and fine us!
Same argument used by Holloway; and that cost himne 25,000 pounds
Why the fuck is Evra playing? If anybody needs the rest it’s him. I can’t understand that.
Do you think Ed actually picks the team?
Liam – I do, honest. I’ll be getting on the phone to my underlings – and by that I mean Fergie – and telling him what to do. I’ve changed my mind about the side though. Gibson, Bebe and Ralphe Milne are terrific players and will be starting the Champions League final.
The minor sub-plot is Bebe. Ed has not got him in the 25 man squad. Has he made any progress this year? Has he the very slightest chance of ever making it with United? What, if any, positive things does he bring to the team? Is he the worst player of the last 50 years ever to have started for United?
Did I read someplace that Valencia needs one more game to qualify for a medal? If so he deserves to start.
Also I cannot see SAF not going for the win against Blackpol, Man Untd would set or tie the record for most home points in a season.
i don’t want wigan or blackpool relegated
however i still want a united victory
so it looks like the pool will be down by 5.50pm today
vds rafa vidic evans evra fletcher scholes park anderson nani berbatov
Far too many potential starters against Barca for my tastes, nobody better get injured.
He’s already better than Dong
shurely shum mishtake………
berbatov shut the nay sayers up and score a goal or 4 today and get that golden boot
they could be 1 up already
come on united
Should have been a pen
berbs having a good game
unlucky not to score
fuck off u orange cunts
Great free kick, but where was the wall?
we’ll sign him now
This is why I’d like to see Blackpool stay up… great game.
He’s better than Hargreaves.
Blackpool safe for now
Berba still on for the Golden Boot
i know the league season is done and dusted but would love berbs to get the golden boot instead of that tevcunt at city
come on united – its blackpool not barcelona
tony v needs to come on for nani pretty soon
good save from vds from that free kick
What’s vidic up to
send gibson on; anderson is proving his shittiest worst today
come on reds
about fucking time anderson
come on nani
wheres the early season promise gone?
come on united
last season’s 2nd highest scorer O.G. makes an appearance in the final game
come on berba – get a goal
he’s bottling the golden boot, typical
just as well he didnt get it
i’d have paid him good money to shove it up ur arse
He did though, technically. Tevez didn’t score today either so they share it.
we’ve won the league by 9 points :)))))) easy
12 league titles in 19 seasons
that is fucking awesome by anyones standards
owen on the bench instead of berbatov for the final
Berbatov is obvious a very intelligent footballer, but sometimes you worry that he overthinks, which leads him to the kind of performance we saw today and against Blackburn. Owen is clearly the more instinctive finisher.
Atmosphere was quite subdued today. I don’t think anyone wanted to see Blackpool get relegated. It felt quite harsh seeing us come back the way we did.
I’ve never felt so sorry for an opposition team and manager before.
I hope they come back to the Premier League soon.
share your sentiments for the club but i think holloway is a bit of a twat
still, not nice to see them get bummed
nice of the OT crowd to give them an ovation by all accounts
It would be great to meet all you guys that write into united rant. I don’t know where you all are from but I think it would be fantastic if everyone could meet at the same time. You guys have been great and you are all welcome at my house. My prediction for next season is that Man United and Man City will battle neck and neck for the title but the rest of the pack will be some 12 points behind. The league will become a two club race just as it is in Scotland with Rangers and Celtic. I see this trend going on for years.
UNITED will win it again next season, but close.
send me your address then sid…i’ll be over with mad red to keep the red flag flying high
Actually I think City might well be favourites for the title by the time the summer’s deals are done. They look like they’re going to get Sanchez, they’ll probably get a top quality attacking mid like Fabregas or someone else good and expensive, and if Tevez goes they will spend the money on another good striker. So they’re already solid defensively, and you’ll have a front four of:
Sanchez — Fabregas/someone else of quality — Silva
——- Tevez/A. Striker
Fuck load of goals in that mix, on top of a sound foundation, and you couldn’t rule them out improving the defence further. Get a better manager, and they look as good as Chelsea under Mourinho with Robben and company. Maybe better.
I.m sure on paper, Man City will be favourites but all these different nationalities trying to play togeteher as a team may take a longer to get use to playing together and playing in a different enviroment from what they are use too. But these are world class players and it depends on Mancini. Under SAF, I give United the edge but it will close.
City aren’t gonna win the league next season FFS