Sir Alex’s derby dilemma
Sir Alex Ferguson faces some difficult decisions in selecting his team for Monday’s Manchester derby – a match he says everyone in Manchester United’s squad is desperate to play a part in.
The Reds go into the game 15 points clear of rivals Manchester City in the title race and, having ceded the Barclays Premier League crown to our neighbours last term, Sir Alex will demand a strong showing and, hopefully, a positive result which would go a long way to wresting control of English football’s top prize from the Blues.
“These are the games that everyone wants to be involved in, the derby games,” Sir Alex says in the official magazine, Inside United, on sale now. “Over the last few years the derby games have been far more important than they ever were, so we’ve all been looking forward to them. But we’ve had a heavy programme leading up to the game so we just have to manage it.”
United have notched an unmatched 25 league wins from 30 games in the Premier League this term, with a free-scoring first-half of the season followed by a ruthless points-hoarding run of form since the turn of the year.
“The form in the league has been very good,” admits the boss. “But the international break came at a difficult time for us, in terms of preparing for the following fixtures. We had the game on the Saturday against Sunderland and then the Cup replay against Chelsea on the Monday, after so many of the players had played two international games. And the calibre of player that we have means they always play for their international teams, that’s for sure.”
Now with a full week to prepare for City’s visit, there are team selection dilemmas all over the pitch, and one area that Sir Alex may have the greatest difficulty in settling on a decision is up front, with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck all vying for starts.
When asked more broadly about his use of those four players during the run-in, Sir Alex said: “I’ve no worries about Rooney because he’s needing games, he’s the kind of player who has to play all the time.
“With van Persie, we have to monitor it because we still don’t know all about Robin, and the kind of seasons he’s had. I don’t think he had a season of such intensity during his time at Arsenal, so we’ll have to look at that. Welbeck’s looking strong as well, as is Chicharito.”