‘Big man’ returns for Wigan clash with place on bench

Wayne Rooney returns to Manchester United’s squad for Wigan Athletic’s visit to Old Trafford but will start on the bench after more than a month out injured. The striker, who spent a week at Nike’s HQ in Oregon, has trained with the first team squad this week and could feature as a second half substitute against Roberto Martinez’ outfit.

The home crowd’s reaction to Rooney’s inclusion is less certain still, with the striker yet to formally apologise to fans for his behaviour in the lead up to signing a new contract last month.

Rooney has not played for United since an ineffective substitute appearance against West Bromwich Albion in October. Subsequently the player blackmailed United into offering the most lucrative contract in the club’s history, from which the player has earned more than £1 million without playing.

While Rooney has not begun full training, he has completed remedial and fitness work and could be included by Sir Alex Ferguson tomorrow before starting in a largely second-string side against Rangers next week.

“I don’t think he’ll start tomorrow,” Ferguson told the Key 103 radio.

“Maybe he will reach the bench. But he will certainly play on Wednesday against Rangers.

“He has been doing OK. He just needs to get back into the football training.

“The week in Oregon was intense. That in itself brings the fitness part, but the football part of training is another thing. With him being out with the ankle injury we needed to get him onto the intense training to get his fitness levels up.”

Ferguson may also be without Ryan Giggs, Chris Smalling and Rafael da Silva, with United potential Premier League leaders  at the weekend’s close. Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand played an hour of England’s loss to France in midweek but has a sore hamstring and may not be risked. Smalling missed out on the international with a groin problem.

Long-term injured Owen Hargreaves, Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia definitely miss out but Paul Scholes returns after missing the draw with Villa through suspension.

In Rooney’s stead Ferguson is likely to retain Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernández despite the pair’s disappointing showing against the Midlanders last weekend. Both players were replaced at Villa Park, with Berbatov having not scored in 10 matches.

Federico Macheda’s fine strike last weekend will only earn the Italian a place on the bench. The teenager also scored twice for Italy under-21s in midweek.

However, Bébé could miss out altogether having played 75 minutes of United’s second string fixture on Thursday night. The Portuguese scored two outstanding goals the reserves’ 3-1 victory to offer fans a glimpse of the talent that persuaded Ferguson to part with £8 million for his services.

Despite Rooney’s return many supporters remain angry over the player’s recent behaviour. Rooney’s assertion that United lacked the “ambition” to retain his services offended fellow players and the striker’s apparently willingness to join Manchester City still rankles with fans. That the 25-year-old striker has thus far refused to apologise has not gone unnoticed either.

However, Ferguson has attempted to cool tempers, laying the blame at agent Paul Stretford’s door.

“The boy rushed in,” the Scot said this week.

“The minute the response of the public and supporters and press had a say, he changed his mind immediately because he knew he made a mistake.

“He immediately apologised and agreed on a new contract in a couple of hours.

“We want to get Wayne to his best. When that happens, everything will be OK.”

Whether Rooney plays or not, Wigan is unlikely to threaten United’s unbeaten record this season despite the Reds’ inconsistent form. The Latics have never beaten United – home or away – with the Reds winning all 11 previous meetings between the two sides, including 10 Premier League matches and the 2006 League Cup final.

Meanwhile, Martinez will be without defender Gary Caldwell, who has thigh problem, while on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley is ineligible to face his parent club.

Cleverley will return to Old Trafford in January having suffered a frustrating spell at Wigan. Injuries have disrupted the 21-year-old’s progress this season but Martinez praised the midfielder’s recent performance against Liverpool.

After United’s disappointing midfield displays this season, the Reds could use Cleverley’s creativity.

Opposition
Wigan – 451 – Al Habsi; Figueroa, Stam, S Caldwell, Alcaraz; Diame, Thomas, N’Zogbia, Gomez, Moses; Rodallega. Subs from: Kirkland, Watson, Boselli, Figueroa, Di Santo, Moses, Gohouri, McArthur.

United squad
Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Amos, Rafael, Brown, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Fabio, Scholes, Obertan, Bébé, Anderson, Gibson, Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Park, Berbatov, Rooney, Hernández, Macheda.

Officials
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant referees: Peter Kirkup & Mike Mullarkey
Fourth official: Mike Jones

Form
United – DWWWDD
Wigan – DWLLDW

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Comments

  1. RedScot says

    Great read as ever, looking forward to watching the match later on football first or some crappy internet thread.
    I am assuming no one else is “paying” at Old Trafford” to watch the game? Or why do we post on this great United blog!
    Its a bastard to make your decisions and stand bye your principles.
    If you say you love United and hate the Glazer, why would you tip money into their trough.
    Anybody who knows me see you at Ibrox on Wedensday.

  2. han says

    MAN UTD v WIGAN
    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Park, Obertan, Macheda. Subs: Kuszczak, Rooney, Giggs, Hernandez, Scholes, O’Shea, Evans.
    Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Steven Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Stam, Diame, Thomas, Gomez, N’Zogbia, Rodallega. Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Watson, Boselli, Moses, McArthur, McManaman.
    Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

  3. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    RobDiablo said:
    This sh*t is so dull, Mourinho might as well be in charge.

    Mourinho wouldn’t make much difference… you can’t make a silk purse from a pig scrotum.

  4. bman says

    madmax said:
    Park spends more time eating grass than playing football

    Yeah they’ve really targeted him, seem to think he’s the danger man, they’re hacking him to bits.

  5. han says

    wigan got bummed 4-0 by blackpool and 6-0 by chelsea in the 1st 2 games at home…
    maybe we can at least get another couple against 9 men

  6. han says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    2-0… now maybe we can relax a bit and play some decent football.

    i see your point alf but its wigan at home – do these players really need to go 2-0 up before they start to show what they are capable of…?

  7. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Rent Boys still losing… could the Chumpski bubble be about to burst?

    They’ve got backroom trouble, and I think I read somewhere that Ancelotti is getting fed up.

  8. bman says

    We’re not exactly bombarding them are we. If winning while playing is the sign of champions, this is the greatest United side of all time.

  9. Just1n says

    What a pathetic display against 9 men.

    What is up with Fletcher. He looks like he went back to the future and the shit version got out the car.

  10. Sidsidney says

    Didn’t see the match because I was up a mountain in the rain

    Sounds like we were bollocks, and were lucky not to go behind early on

    Park, Carrick & Flether is depressing as fuck

  11. sheesh says

    Disappointed with the applause Rooney got when he came on. There were a few boos in there as well but I did hear some idiots singing “Rooney”.

    Football fans can be so fickle.

  12. says

    Ed said:
    Bman – optimism!

    or just being positive?

    despite off-field distractions, we are joint top, undefeated – and not even out of first gear. it’s extraordinary.

    all this with a patchwork rio, non-functioning rooney, 39 year old-goaly, zero valencia, knackered giggs – and the drag factor of gibson and anderson.

  13. Sidsidney says

    danniitronix said:
    or just being positive?

    despite off-field distractions, we are joint top, undefeated – and not even out of first gear. it’s extraordinary.

    all this with a patchwork rio, non-functioning rooney, 39 year old-goaly, zero valencia, knackered giggs – and the drag factor of gibson and anderson.

    Chelsea have lost 4 times in 14 games

  14. han says

    i try to be an optimist but you have to look at the current situation and query whether there is another gear to change to – more often than not, the games have been boring on mediocre and the team seem content with the bare minimum – ok villa apart but even in that game, why go 2 goals down before some kind of fire is lit?

  15. says

    sidney said:
    Chelsea have lost 4 times

    and arsenal 3 time with the “shit” Park gave another assist yesterday, so materially contributing us going to joint top on points

    bitch and moan all you want bro – but the stats are there and the stats don’t lie. end of.

  16. says

    han said:
    i try to be an optimist but you have to look at the current situation and query whether there is another gear to change to – more often than not, the games have been boring on mediocre and the team seem content with the bare minimum – ok villa apart but even in that game, why go 2 goals down before some kind of fire is lit?

    of course there fucking is – ask yourself can we play any SHITTER. seriously, can we?

    rooney has yet to get out of first gear – berbs is off the boil – rio is getting back to full fitness – we are finally seeing the true King Kong Evra – thankfully Andercunt and Gibshite are banned from OT.

    And, as we are led to beleive, we will get some investment in Jan.

    Obertan displayed some quality again yesterday, Nani’s crossing is getting better and better – and we have Cleverly to come back in Jan.

    Hernandez is getting more confident and we have Giggs’ creativity to come back.

    Park and Fletch are doing their jobs – not lighting up the stage but just doing their jobs – supporting the squad in times of stress.

    There is no need to committ suicide just because we are joint top – and still undefeated.

  17. sheesh says

    I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of Park but, to be fair to him, he was one of the few players in the first half who was looking to try and create something when others were only too happy to faff about with the ball.

    First half we played far too narrowly and failed to make full use of the width available to us with Obertan and Nani on the pitch. We kept trying to do all these ‘thread through the eye of the needle’ passes in the centre of the park where Wigan had plenty of players to defend in numbers.

    What today showed is how utterly our midfield is lacking in terms of guile and creativity. I felt a bit sorry for Macheda who had very little support.

    Even against 9 men, I wondered if we were going to score a 2nd goal. We’d get to the final 3rd and then look utterly clueless about what to do with the ball. Only when Scholes and Rooney came on, did we improve in that respect. That worried me more than anything else about our performance.

    That said, we are joint top and surely can’t play any worse. There have been spells this season when we have played some good football…but they have only been spells. Hopefully we can go on a good run between now and the start of New Year (or preferably May, eh) with the performances taking care of themselves thereafter.

    It’s all about momentum.

  18. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    You’re right about the lack of craftiness… but the 9 man issue is a bit misleading I think… Wigan simply reverted to a 9 man defense, which is more or less what it was when they had 11… they just stopped attacking.

    The rest of the match was spent laying seige to their goal, with no real outlet for them once they got hold of the ball.

    The fact we didn’t score more was kind of predictable… we were never going to be able to hit them on the break, as they never ventured out of their own half… and hammering against their defense, only conjested their goal area even more… we made a couple of chances, but there was never much space to play with… and everything ground to a halt.

    I think we’d have done better against 10, as they may have left Rodellega up front, and we may have seen the occasional outward thrust, and then the counter might have come into play.

    Still… there’s no denying, that without Scholes, we just have no real creative genius.

  19. Sidsidney says

    danniitronix said:
    and arsenal 3 time with the “shit” Park gave another assist yesterday, so materially contributing us going to joint top on points

    bitch and moan all you want bro – but the stats are there and the stats don’t lie. end of.

    The stats don’t lie – one away win is not good enough to win the league

    We’re only in with a chance because Chelsea are poor too. Could you ever imagine a time they would get done 3-0 at home? Or they would have lost 4 out of 14?

    I’m bitching about the lack of quality and the awful football we play which leads to us relying on smash & grab wins to salvage points. I can’t remember the last time we played well let along put in a vintage performance.

    It’s good to see us winning despiting not playing well but the weaknesses are obvious and the opposition will exploit them many times from now ’til May. I think we could be due a turning over at some point.. a similar result to Chelsea’s 3-0 at home

  20. says

    sidney said:
    The stats don’t lie – one away win is not good enough to win the league

    We’re only in with a chance because Chelsea are poor too. Could you ever imagine a time they would get done 3-0 at home? Or they would have lost 4 out of 14?

    I’m bitching about the lack of quality and the awful football we play which leads to us relying on smash & grab performances to salvage points. I can’t remember the last time we played well let along put in a vintage performance.

    It’s good to see us winning despiting not playing well but the weaknesses are obvious and the opposition will exploit them many times from now ’til May. I think we could be due a turning over at some point.. a similar result to Chelsea’s 3-0 at home

    yeah but our shit away form is countered by the others’ shit home form and the fact that even though we are “shit”, we still haven’t lost. For us “shit” it wld seem still gets us a point

    well maybe this season will be different to the last few – it may be a question of who is the least shittest rather than the clear winner.

    not a great advert for the EPL but quality and strength of a league goes in cycles – usually between the english league, serie A and la liga.

    clearly this is not the greatest for unites. no united supporter wants to see park fletch carrick and grandpa scholes in the middle of the park every weekend – but it’s clear that these four stop-gaps (OK not Fletch) have until the December / New Year run in at least helped us to keep us in the hunt.

    it’s clear that Citeh, Chavs and Le Arse have no bollocks, look at their defeats.

    on the other hand, we haven’t got as much midfield creativity as any of them (OK Citech are flat in midfield too)

    we can fix the midfield to a certain extent in Jan with Clev plus another but he woint be a monster as no cunt will let him go in Jan

    it’s much harder to grow some bollocks so I think the Chavs, Le ARse and Shitty have as much to worry about as we do with our financial shit as well as lack of midfield skill

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