Speaking at the pre match press conference this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s visit of CFR Cluj in the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed the latest team news.
Sir Alex on Vidic…
“I don’t think Nemnja Vidic will play. He feels he needs another few days’ training so he won’t be available. He’s not far away. He’s training well now but I think another few days will bring him on better. If he doesn’t play tomorrow there’s no chance he’ll play in the derby game.”
Now, unlike most, I am quite glad that Nemanja Vidic won’t be playing. He was supposed to be returning after Christmas from his surgery and I don’t want to see him rushed back again. I would rather he didn’t play until he was 110% fit just to minimise the risk of any further injuries. Now that we have Smalling, Jones and Ferdinand fit, we have plenty of cover for tomorrow’s game without having to risk Nemanja.
Sir Alex on the defensive issues…
“I think we’re getting punished when the ball’s going into our box at the moment. But we should be defending far better. Albeit, Reading produced some fantastic balls into the box. We should be expecting better. It’s a worry. If we perform like that on Sunday then God knows what’s going to happen to us.
“When you see the goals against – we’ve lost 32 already – I can’t remember us losing so many goals before Christmas. It’s a concern, there’s no question about that. When you see City have Balotelli, Dzeko – all really tall players – it’s going to be a big challenge. But that’s on Sunday. Tomorrow we’ve got a different game.”
Ferguson hit the nail on the head. Balls into the box have been the bane of our defence this season and we have simply not coped with them. Going into the derby on Sunday, it is not the sort of form you want your team to be in. Manchester City are in the same boat in the respect that their defence has been poor in comparison to last year, so in all likeliness the derby on Sunday is probably going to be a high scoring affair.
Sir Alex on team selection for tomorrow…
“We’ll rest some players tomorrow, as we did against Galatasaray. But we have to be fair to all the teams who are trying to reach important positions – whether that’s the Champions League or the Europa League. In that respect, we’ll play a team that we expect will win. But there will be changes.”
Ferguson has already confirmed that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Alexander Buttner will start tomorrow and with one eye firmly on Sunday’s derby, I don’t expect to see many first teamers taking part.
Wayne Rooney will definitely start according to Ferguson and with Danny Welbeck sitting beside him in the press conference, it is likely that he will get the nod up front as well. Also, Nick Powell should be in line for another Champions League start after his impressive performance away to Galatasaray.