Manchester United and Chelsea have set off for Moscow ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League final. The sides are due to land at 10pm Russian time (or 7pm BST), and will have their first training sessions on Tuesday.
Sir Alex has taken a squad of 24 players with him, and says he has picked a starting lineup, but picking the substitutes has proven to be difficult:
“I know my team, but picking the substitutes is the big problem. I’m not going to enjoy it, there will be some very good players left out.
I hope one day they extend the substitutes’ bench to 11 players as they do in World Cup games. The dilemma should be taken from me.”
Ferguson certainly has a point, being faced with the difficult task of choosing 7 subsitutes from a possible 13; having so many players to pick has its disadvantages too, it would appear.
Meanwhile for Chelsea, worries over John Terry and Didier Drogba have eased and the pair are likely to play, meaning both sides have fully-fit squads ahead of the final.
But United’s more youthful squad will have the experience of Ferguson, who’s already been through a European final, of course.
Travelling United squad:
Goalkeepers: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Heaton
Defenders: Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Brown, Neville, O’Shea, Silvestre, Pique
Midfielders: Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Hargreaves, Anderson, Fletcher, Park, Nani
Forwards: Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Saha, Wellbeck
After the recent media speculation surrounding Manchester United’s possible transfer targets for the Summer, Alex Ferguson has comfirmed that the Reds will, indeed, be signing a forward. Ferguson said, “We will buy. Along with Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney, we may need experience in one forward position, somebody to take over from Ryan Giggs eventually.”
This statement confirms what many already suspected, and will come as pleasing to United fans, who feel that one of the few weaknesses within the side is the lack of a centre-forward; it has become apparent that the seemingly temperamental Louis Saha needs to be replaced with a stronger signing.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham) and Michael Owen (Newcastle) have all been amongst the speculation, but the player being increasingly mentioned is Seville’s Luis Fabiano. The 27-year old Brazilian has an impressive 34 goals to his name this season, in just 44 appearances for his club. He also topped the La Liga top scorer list this season with 18 goals, beating Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o and United’s former goal-machine Ruud van Nistelrooy.
So what a Season’s we’ve had over the last 9 odd months; twists and turns right until the very end, not only at the top and bottom of the table, but also towards the middle, where UEFA cup spots are for the taking. In fact, pretty much every position in the League table means something these days, with the big difference in prize money.
Earlier in the week, Steve Bruce explained the “”2 million reasons” him and his side had for beating United, with the £2.1 million difference in prize money between finishing 15th and 13th. And then there’s the issue of the promoted clubs, who are having to spend increasingly more and more on bringing in players, if they want to have any chance of staying in the Prem. at all – but that’s a different topic entirely.
Let’s turn our attention back to the top of the table, and the so-called “Big Four” – United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Personally if we were talking just about the Premiership I’d call it the Big Three, but Liverpool’s recent European record probably justifies their inclusion. The problem they have is that they keep finishing consistently in that same area of the table – 4th. In recent years they’ve lacked a decent, reliable striker who bags them 20+ goals a season. This year, they’ve found that in Fernando Torres – one of the best signings of the season. The Spanish forward broke our own Van Nistelrooy’s record for the highest Prem. debut season foreign scorer, and so it looks we can expect good things from him. He’s arguably even as important a player for the Scousers as Gerrard, and as long as Rafa Benitez plays him consistently next year they should get goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo picked up three of United’s end of season awards on Sunday evening. In addition to retaining the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards, he also swooped the Goal of the Season award, for his brilliant freekick against Portsmouth. What’s more, the Portuguese star’s backheel goal against Aston Villa came in second place.
In his own words: “It’s a fantastic feeling. I didn’t expect to win three awards. I’m very happy and I have to say thank you to the fans, my team-mates and everyone. It’s a great night for me.”
This marks another wonderful season from the winger, who also won and retained the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Writers’ Player of the Year awards earlier this year.
The other 2 United awards were won by youths Richard Eckersley and Danny Welbeck, for the Denzel Haroun Reserves Player of the Year and the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year awards, respectively.
On the day when it all counted in the Premiership, Manchester United managed to hold their nerve to clinch the title in thrilling fashion.
A 2-0 win over a determined Wigan side at the JJB meant a phenomenal tenth league title for Ryan Giggs, and for Fergie, bringing the club’s tally to seventeen league titles – and just one short of Liverpool’s eighteen.
For those who had any sort of doubt whatsoever, Ryan Giggs has most definitely confirmed his United legend status. On the day he also equalled Sir Bobby’s United appearance record of 758, he also came on to score the goal that settled United nerves, and effectively secured the trophy. If ever there was a player to hail today, it’s the Welshman.
As had been expected, it was pretty nerveracking and tense for the United contigent at time – from the very start Wigan lived up to their words before the match, looking determined to perform in front of their fans and putting plenty of men behind the ball – but United were boosted by the returns of Vidic and Rooney to the lineup. Rooney being in the starting 11 was a pleasant surprirse, and he got himself into a goalscoring position 15 minutes in, with his shot deflected wide. Scholes soon aftermanaged to shimmy the ball away from his man after a corner, but lashed his 20-yard effort, reminiscent of the area in which he’d unleashed his superb effort past Victor Valdes last week – wide.