UNITED BACK TO THE TOP BUT WILL DO IT WITHOUT ROONEY OR OWEN
By Football Talk.
Manchester United have the chance to reach the top of the premier league today when they take on Wolves at Molineux. With Chelsea playing in the FA Cup this weekend, United could open up a two point gap with victory over a Wolves side hovering above the relegation zone.
Sir Alex Ferguson has had his striking options reduced with the news that Michael Owen will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Anybody surprised? Owen was always going to pick up injuries and that was the reason Capello wasn’t ever going to consider him for the World Cup, he couldn’t be relied upon to stay fit.
More importantly for Ferguson is that Wayne Rooney is a doubt with a knee problem. Rooney aggravated the injury after playing on the dodgy Wembley surface twice in four days. Sir Alex was less than impressed with Rooney’s decision to complete 88 minutes against Egypt after complaining of a sore knee after the Carling Cup final on Sunday.
“I don’t think he should have played,” he said.
“He told us on Sunday he was feeling his knee. Then all of a sudden people put an arm around his shoulder with England and he wants to play. Fabio Capello has to pick his best team. A win was important so I don’t blame him at all.”
“I was more disappointed with Wayne. Why didn’t he come off ?, I can’t believe it. It is hard to quell the enthusiasm of people like Wayne,” he said.
“I think Wembley’s a difficult pitch. I thought a horse show had been on it by the time I went on it. It reminded me of a ploughed field, I couldn’t believe the players had actually played on it !”
There is no doubt United will miss Rooney if he fails to make it. The England man has been in sparkling form lately, probably the best form of his career. But Fergie will have one-eye on the AC Milan game and will not want to risk his star man. Rooney will be kept on the bench and with Owen also out, it leaves Ferguson with little option but to play Dimitar Berbatov up top on his own, but Man Utd should still have too much for Wolves even without Wayne Rooney.
United have been boosted with the news that Rio Ferdinand will return after a back complaint so Fergie can resume the Vidic-Ferdinand partnership, which he feels will be important going into a busy run-in.
“Rio is back which is good news. It comes at a good time with a big game against Milan next Wednesday.
“Having the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership is a big boost in terms of the experience and consistency they’ve shown over the last few years. That will be important to us in the run-in.”
Winger Nani is also available after completing his suspension but will have to fight it out with the in-form Valencia for a right-wing spot, although Ferguson could play him on the left. Ryan Giggs and Jonny Evans are both out.
The spotlight will be on Mick McCarthy once again after he chose to field a weakened side in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. After loosing 3-0 Wolves were handed a suspended fine so you can expect a full-strength Wolves side today. Who will probably lose 3-0 again. I was totally against the punishment handed out to Wolves, it was ridiculous. Mick McCarthy made a judgment call and it was a correct one. His side had put in a shift to beat Spurs, were playing a vital relegation 6-pointer the following week and were heading to the home of the Champions. If a manager decides to chop and change his team that’s his decision. A full-strength Wolves would have lost maybe 2-0 instead of 3-0, whats the big deal? Managers have rested players when they feel its necessary for years.
But McCarthy is expected to name an unchanged line-up for the fourth consecutive game. Andy Keogh is back in the squad but will only make the bench with Kevin Doyle continuing alone up front. Michael Kightly and Dave Edwards are both still sidelined.
Possible starting XIs
Wolves: Hahnemann, Craddock, Foley, Berra, Zubar, Guedioura, Henry, Jones, Jarvis, Doyle, Ward.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rafael, Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia, Nani, Scholes, Berbatov.
Will Manchester United return back to the top of the league? Or will the lose of Rooney unsettle the side too much? Please leave your comments below….
/ 16 mins ago
Antonio Conte could snub a move to Newcastle United to keep him in contention...
/ 18 hours ago
Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night. Here is...