Fergie rues Nemanja loss ahead of Wolves visit

Manchester United will be without captain Nemanja Vidić for the remainder of this season after Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that the 29-year-old Serbian ruptured his left cruciate ligament against FC Basel on Wednesday night. News of Vidić’s prognosis adds to a growing list of absentees ahead of United’s weekend Premier League fixture, with manager Ferguson missing xxx first team players for the Midlanders’ visit to Old Trafford.

Losing Vidić, easily United’s best player this season – subjectively, or by any objective measure – is a huge blow to United’s ambitions in the three competitions that Ferguson’s outfit will still contest. Indeed, the news capped off one of Ferguson’s worst weeks in the past five years after United was knocked out of the Champions League.

But with a busy Christmas period coming up Ferguson says that United’s squad will cope with the loss – both of Vidić and to Basel in Europe’s premier competition – starting against Wolves on Saturday afternoon.

“We thought it was a bad one,” Ferguson said of Vidić’s injury.

“He’s out for the season. It’s not unexpected but it’s still bad news. He’ll see a specialist on Monday to work out the progress of when he has the operation. It won’t be immediate as we have to let the swelling come down. We’ll now have to choose between Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. I thought Rio had his best game of season on Wednesday. His experience will be vital.

“[Vidić] is a loss and we missed him in the early part of the season for five weeks with his calf injury against West Brom. He’s such a dominant character, particularly his defending in the penalty box. That’s always a strong feature of his game.”

Manchester United versus Wolverhampton Wanderers, Premier League, Old Trafford, Saturday 10 December 2011, 3pmIn the Serbian’s stead will step one of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans or Phil Jones, with the Northern Irishman favourite for selection. But central defence is only one of Ferguson’s selection headaches; the Scot will also be without strikers Michael Owen and Javier Hernández, midfielders Anderson and Tom Cleverley, and full-backs Rafael and Fabío da Silva.

However, the Scot’s options are supplemented by Michael Carrick’s return to the side, after the Geordie missed United’s European defeat through suspension. Dimitar Berbatov, who has missed two matches with a calf strain, could feature from the bench. Fit again Danny Welbeck is likely to start along side Wayne Rooney in attack. The Scouser has not scored in eight matches since netting a double against Otelul Galati in the Champions League, and not from open-play since 18 September.

Meanwhile, Ferguson defended his under-fire players, after United departed the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since 2005 and dropped into the Europa League. Despite summer calls from supporters and pundits to invest in experience, Ferguson has long trusted his squad’s young stars – blaming the media “hounds” for placing the club in the spotlight following Wednesday’s defeat.

“When the likes of Giggs and the other young lads came in to the side, they came in for criticism early on, particularly against Aston Villa [in 1995]. We’ve experienced that many times over the years,” added Ferguson.

“But the Wes Browns and John O’Sheas and Darren Fletchers all became the foundation of the club and that’s what will happen with these young players. They’ve achieved many great things so far. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck have played for their country – they will be the foundation of the club in a few years’ time, there’s no question about that.

“They had a nasty experience on Wednesday but they know they have the trust of me and my coaches, and they will not be hounded because of one bad performance. Time will prove us right. We’re not the only club in the world that can’t have a bad result. Everyone gets them. How you recover from them is important and it’s good for our young players in particular.

“It’s a situation we have to deal with. I don’t think anyone relishes seeing criticism of themselves. But I’ve said it time and time again: you only need to lose two games here and the hounds are out. It [the criticism] is something I don’t really follow, to be honest, because I know the work we’re doing here is the right work. The players we have here are the right players. We always want to be better, we want to be perfect, but you never can be perfect. Perseverance is necessary to try and achieve that, and that’s what this club is good at.”

That road will start on Saturday against a Wolves side that has lost seven of its last 10 fixtures in all competitions. However, Mick McCarthey’s side comes into the fixture on the back of a win against struggling Sunderland last weekend. Midfielder Karl Henry will start after serving a one-match ban, but defender Jody Craddock has a hamstring injury and is likely to miss out. Roger Johnson could come back into the side.

And despite Wolves’ renaissance last weekend Ferguson could hardly hope for a better opponent to begin United’s own recovery. The Midlanders’ have not won at Old Trafford in 31 years, and victory for the hosts will bring Ferguson’s side to within two points of leaders Manchester City.

United begins a run of five Premier League games, all against teams in the bottom half of the table, before a tougher run of fixtures in the New Year. Meanwhile, City faces games against Chelsea and Arsenal in the next fortnight. It could prove a pivotal month in the Premier League title race.

Match Facts
Manchester United versus Wolverhampton Wanderers, Premier League, Old Trafford, Saturday 10 December 2011, 3pm

Likely Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Lindegaard, Smalling, Fryers, Gibson, Park, Valencia, Diouf, Macheda.

Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Ward, Johnson, Berra, Zubar; Edwards, Hunt, O’Hara, Jarvis; Fletcher, Doyle. Subs from: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Hammill, Milijas, Ebanks-Blake, Guedioura, Forde, Elokobi, Doherty, De Vries.

Form
United: DWDLWL
Wolves: LLWLLW

Performance stats

  • United recorded another 1-0 win in the Premier League game against Aston Villa, with Phil Jones scoring his first senior goal in 63 appearances. Jones has recorded just nice efforts on goal, including his goal against Villa, this season;
  • Nani covered the most ground for United in the game against with 6.85 miles, and the Portuguese also provided the cross for Jones’ goal. Nani remains the most prolific crosser of the ball in the Premier League with 56 crosses delivered, while team mate Ashley Young has made 45 crosses;
  • Despite losing his top spot in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Rooney remains the striker who has done the most for his colleagues, completing 361 passes in his opponent’s half, more than any other forward in the league;
  • United has scored 31 goals so far this season from 208 efforts at goal, a conversion rate of 15 per cent. However, rivals Manchester City has scored 48 goals from 252 efforts, a conversion rate of 19 per cent;
  • For the visitors Steven Fletcher scored twice late in the second half to rescue three points for Wolves against Sunderland last weekend;
  • Fletcher’s goals were his fourth and fifth of the season, an efficient conversion rate with the striker making making just 17 attempts at goal this season – a 29 per cent conversion rate;
  • David Edwards covered the most ground for Wolves against Sunderland, with 6.8 miles, but Karl Henry is the club’s hardest worker over the season, averaging 7.29 miles per game.

Officials
Referee: Michael Oliver (Ashington)
Assistants: C Breakspear, D Bryan
Fourth Official: C Foy

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Comments

  1. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    I can’t believe Evans will get the nod… he’s just not cutting it…

    I would think Jones will partner Rio, and Smalling will go out right.

  2. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I can’t believe Evans will get the nod… he’s just not cutting it…

    It looks like Evans is getting the chance to play his way into or out of the next First XI at Center Half. Right now, he looks to be headed out, where he will then have to choose between being the new O’Shea (cover at Center and Left Back as needed) or make his way to the new Sunderland (whichever side that turns out to be).

  3. Ichiro says

    Jones at right back for me.

    I cant believe how far Evans has fallen to be compared with OShea. He was such a great prospect.

  4. kramer says

    yeah, he was fucking good. its weird, he seems slow and can’t jump anymore. he just doesn’t look like a fighter. its a pity, i think he’s got the talent.

    • Damian Garside says

      Players getting crocked. Players losing form. What was it Freud said about there being no coincidences.

      Things are not going well because of something deeply wrong at the club. Until it is fixed we are in for more of this.

      We have lacked in midfield for a long time — but we muddled through to titles. Now it is as if the midfield is not just weak, but non-functional.

      As I have said before: I don’t think we can grind through to pick up the 5 points lead City have: we need to get the best possible combination of what we have and play to our strengths — which in the circumstances means create new strengths. It is no use having our best players on the flanks and nothing nin the centre — nani feeding in great crosses and no one at the end of them. Fergie needs to fix the centre — get the spine of the team right and then worry about the flanks. This may include moving nani in as a more central kind of striker and playing with wingbacks or something. Nani and Young wide and a combination in central midfield that imnvolves either Giggs or Park, or God forbid, both is not going to cut it.

      Funny how all our troubles started when City wen’t mega — as if somehow the club’s worst fears became realized. And the b6-1 defeat had new nemesis written all over it. We need to put that ghost to rest — and the Cup match at the Eithad is where we are going to have to do it.

      Sir Alex was (I now hesitate to say is) a great manager, historically our greatest ever. But if he choses Park and Giggs in tandem at CMF for the Cup match against City then he will be flirting dangerously with his legacy. People say we must forget City — and I agree — we must forget about catching them, if it happens it happens — and try to find a combination that can come up with the goods — and beat them twice at the Eithad, and win the Cup.

      Unless we find this combination — presuming that there is one — we will be playing second fiddle for the rest of the season.

      Needless to say we have to beat Wolves. If City beat Chelsea and open upo a seven or eight point gap on us and an even bigger margin over the teams following — with the team (squad) they have, it will be all she wrote as far as the league title is concerned.

  5. ja says

    If he is not going to give the likes of Morrison and Poghba a chance in an untelevised match at 3pm on a Saturday to a lower end of the table team like Wolves, partic when Young is injured again, will he ever?

  6. max says

    App Ash Young is injured again…can any1 confirm????? Will be another massive blow. Think its his toe again. Got taken off early against Basel.

  7. max says

    I’d go with DDG, Smalling, Jones, Rio, Paddy, Nani, carrick, Fletch, Young, Wazza, Welbz. Bench: Berba, Lind, Giggs, Park, Valencia, Macheda.

  8. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    lindegard jones rio evans evra valencia carrick fletcher nani rooney welbeck

    blame for degea young and smalling

  9. Sidsidney says

    De Gea – Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra – Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Nani – Rooney, Welbeck

    Bench: Lindegaard, Fryers, Gibson, Giggs, Park, Young, Macheda

    Still no Fletcher, Ed. You said he was fit

  10. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    RobDiablo said:
    I just clicked on it, and it worked.

    OK, you’re forgiven!

    Do you have any recommendations regarding a high quality feed?

  11. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    brianofnazareth said:
    Do you have any recommendations regarding a high quality feed?

    I’m wrapping up a project, so not watching yet. I never seem to watch the same source from one match to the next.

  12. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    RobDiablo said:
    I’m wrapping up a project

    Thinly veiled ” I’m just packing the boyfriend in a taxi then I can watch the game” lol

    Got a link now, cheers!

  13. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    brianofnazareth said:
    Thinly veiled ” I’m just packing the boyfriend in a taxi then I can watch the game” lol

    Don’t be daft; I would never date a guy who didn’t have his own car. FFS.

  14. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    RobDiablo said:
    Don’t be daft; I would never date a guy who didn’t have his own car. FFS.

    Sorry my bad, I wondered why Cap has been frantically looking in the free ads!

  15. sheesh says

    danniitronix said:
    solid performance against s rubbish side. our defence is still shaky though.
    carrick and jones have been excellent as have been rooney and nani

    Great result in the end. Atmosphere was decent and we played like we had a point to prove. Defensively, we looked a bit shaky because Smalling is never in a million years a right back. Overall it was a good team performance.

    Carrick has been playing well of late and Jones has been terrific.

  16. Herbie Simms says

    SAF has lost his mind. He has completely lost his marbles.
    I don’t want to disrespect this great manager but he has made big errors of judgement in his team selection this season. For instance, Valencia should be first choice starter along with Rooney and Berbatov. He has ruined Berbatov’s career so he might as well sell him. Why did he buy Ashley Young? DeGea is too young to be the starting keeper in the Premier Divison. We have no quality right back and a garbage midfield. I really don’t know where SAF mind is at, but with all said and done, it amazes me how we are sitting in second place with this crap team and still may win the title. Are we just a lucky team or is SAF just that incredable of a manager? Someone please give me the answer before I loose my mind and I end up like SAF.

    • Alain says

      Oh.. yeah, he has lost his mind. How ignorant can Man Utd be? They should hire Herbie Simms to be the manager. Since you can spot all the tactics and players that Ferguson, for all his experiences and trophies, can’t. Yeah, Ferguson should just retire and stick to Football Manager eh?

  17. kramer says

    decent performance. hopefully this will give the side a boost. we need to get in form for the christmas period.

    nani was great.

  18. kramer says

    Commenter said:
    Oh.. yeah, he has lost his mind. How ignorant can Man Utd be? They should hire Herbie Simms to be the manager. Since you can spot all the tactics and players that Ferguson, for all his experiences and trophies, can’t. Yeah, Ferguson should just retire and stick to Football Manager eh?

    herbie’s special, ignore him.

  19. Damian Garside says

    I’m wondering: why is everyone suddenly so quiet/ We suddenly hit form again, and look like we have the basis for a team that could work even despite the huge injuries (or strangely and a bit peversely, because of them– less possiblities means less space for tinkering) and we have here, as at 10.35 am South African time only 49 postings. Usually we have 200 plus postings when there is a game. What’s the deal?

    Anyway, I hope Sir Lord F doesn’t change too many things for thew next game — we need to let this combo gel a bit, we can try using Young as an assistant striker in place of Wellbeck — or move to LW and play nani in that role since he is scoring. But nothing too radical plase — and nothing that is not motivated purely by footballing considerations: not this player because we want to sell him to this manager with United connections or that player because it will help us sell shirts and cards in Korea.

    City aren’t playing Aguero because they want to increase their profile in latin America — or Balotelli because they want to use this to market an in-house brand of firework.

    Anyway — hope you are all enjoying a big win — even if it is only Wolves, it’s a start.

    Tomorrow a Chelsea victory will throw the league wide open. Maybe then the postings will start in real earnest again.

  20. says

    Commenter said:
    I’m wondering: why is everyone suddenly so quiet/ We suddenly hit form again, and look like we have the basis for a team that could work even despite the huge injuries (or strangely and a bit peversely, because of them– less possiblities means less space for tinkering) and we have here, as at 10.35 am South African time only 49 postings. Usually we have 200 plus postings when there is a game. What’s the deal?

    Anyway, I hope Sir Lord F doesn’t change too many things for thew next game — we need to let this combo gel a bit, we can try using Young as an assistant striker in place of Wellbeck — or move to LW and play nani in that role since he is scoring. But nothing too radical plase — and nothing that is not motivated purely by footballing considerations: not this player because we want to sell him to this manager with United connections or that player because it will help us sell shirts and cards in Korea.

    City aren’t playing Aguero because they want to increase their profile in latin America — or Balotelli because they want to use this to market an in-house brand of firework.

    Anyway — hope you are all enjoying a big win — even if it is only Wolves, it’s a start.

    Tomorrow a Chelsea victory will throw the league wide open. Maybe then the postings will start in real earnest again.

    It was Wolves – therefore, I suspect that most people like me are not running around with a hard on saying that we are back in the mix. Most would rather keep their counsel and acknowledge the performances of jones, carrick and rooney.

    Otherwise, I agree with everything you say – come on Chelsea!

  21. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    if you want backslapping shite you knwo where you can go

    if you want the truth, just wait til we’re knocked out the europa by lokomotiv plovdiv following a hammering at city in the cup

  22. Just1n says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    if you want backslapping shite you knwo where you can go

    if you want the truth, just wait til we’re knocked out the europa by lokomotiv plovdiv following a hammering at city in the cup

    ROM is always good for the backslapping shit.

  23. kramer says

    in all seriousness though, i liked that performance, even if it was against wolves. it’d be good to push jones to centre back, drop evans and play fletcher in midfield. most importantly, keep welbeck up front, valencia on the right and nani on the left.

    once cleverley gets back, then the team can be rethought.

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