Sir Alex Ferguson has rounded on critics of United’s younger players while promising to keep faith in the kids during the Carling Cup this season. The 67-year-old Scot says United’s youngsters, beaten by Beşiktaş in Champions League group B last Wednesday, will play against Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow night. No matter what the critics say.
“Those lads need to be challenged and I thought they did OK. They did not deserve that kind of criticism,” Ferguson said ahead of Tuesday night’s Carlin Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford.
“Those same people will be going cap in hand to them, begging them for interviews in a few years’ time, mark my words. It is so hypocritical.
“I don’t need to motivate them with what has been said. Their future is well mapped out. But the one thing we cannot give them is an old head, which is what we saw in the last third of the pitch last week.
“They got anxious. They created good chances and they hurried the thing. But that is not the biggest crime in the world.
“We are not talking about ability here. We are talking about experience and in that sense is starting to stack up. That is why we have to play them.”
Ferguson’s youngsters, who have beaten Wolverhampton Wanderers and Barnsley in this season’s competition, will face in-form Spurs for a place in the two-legged semi-final. The competition holders will put out a side made up of younger and fringe players.
Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Rafael da Silva, Darron Gibson and Gabriel Obertan will almost certainly start the match, with a 60,000 crowd expected for the Londoners’ visit. Ferguson will choose between Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak in goal, while Michael Owen, Nani and Ji-Sung Park will play some part in the match.
While the match offers another test in the young players’ progression, Ferguson is keen to keep up an unbeaten run in the competition that stretches back more than two years.
Despite the second-string look to United’s probable side tomorrow night, Darren Fletcher insists that the club takes the competition seriously. However, Fletcher, United’s in-form Scottish midfielder, is unlikely to take part in the match.
“We don’t dismiss the Carling Cup at all. It has been an important competition for the younger players and lads on the fringes of the squad for many years,” Fletcher said.
“Last year the lads went all the way to the final and won it. What a great achievement that was.
“For people like Ben Foster, Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson to win their first trophy provided them invaluable experience which will stay with them for the rest of their careers.
“We have so many games these players are an integral part of the squad.
“It is vitally important for them to go through the experiences they are getting just now because ultimately, it is going to make them better players.”
Spurs, seeking revenge for defeat by United in last season’s final, will be without Ledley King – who is predictably injured – and manager Harry Redknapp is unlikely to risk Jonathan Woodgate. Mexican teenager Giovanni dos Santos may play after returning from injury.