Reds at full strength to seal title win

Sir Alex Ferguson will resist any temptation to rest his star players ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Blackburn Rovers. The Reds require just a single point to seal this season’s Premier League title and a 19th domestic championship, eclipsing Liverpool’s record in the process. But Ferguson says he will play his full strength side against Rovers, with just two weeks remaining before the Champions League final.

The Scot can boast a full squad for the tie as his players gear up for the Wembley showpiece at Wembley, with the returning Darren Fletcher set to feature after completing an hour in the reserves on Thursday night. Ferguson dismissed any thought of resting key players, although the United boss hinted that goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar may sit out the tie.

“We must approach the game the right way and play our strongest team,” Ferguson said on Friday.

“It’s always a difficult game and Blackburn are fighting [to stay up]. They probably need a point. They’ll be trying their utmost to get that point or even beat us. We must put in the same effort. It’s a hard game for both teams but we go there with confidence after last Sunday’s win over Chelsea which was a great performance by us and we need another like that.

“Given the programme he’s been through in the last few weeks, this may be an opportunity to give [van der Sar] a break. They’ve all been important games.”

Ferguson’s comments raise the spectre of the Reds’ boss fielding a reserve team against Blackpool at Old Trafford next weekend as United seek to complete the season unbeaten at home, while the Tangerines chase survival. It promises to be a controversial selection; one that the Premier League may choose to monitor closely.

Indeed, Mexican striker Javier Hernández, who has now featured in 43 matches during his first season at Old Trafford, may be given an extended summer break. The striker leaves for the Gold Cup in June and will miss United’s pre-season tour to the United States before returning to Carrington for training in late July.

“Once he plays in the Gold Cup, Javier will be given a proper rest and we will take it up from there,” said Ferguson.

“His performances in training and in games suggests there’s no tiredness at all but we will keep monitoring that. If we get the result tomorrow he will get the rest. If we don’t then he will play next Sunday.”

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United. Ewood Park, 14 May 2011Ferguson is also likely to add Fletcher to the bench for the Rovers tie after the Scotland captain featured in United reserves’ 2-1 defeat to Blackburn in midweek. Fletcher has missed the best part of Untied’s run-in with a mystery virus but is now in contention to feature in the Champions League final too.

“He played over an hour on Wednesday [for the Reserves]. These kinds of games will hopefully bring him to the level for the final of a European Cup,” added the 69-year-old United boss.

“Hopefully he gets a bit tomorrow, some more on Monday for the Reserves and again against Blackpool next Sunday. There’s also Gary Neville’s testimonial game. There are opportunities to increase his fitness so we’ve got to give him the chance. He’s back training every day. He’s over his virus – it’s just a matter of getting that strength and speed to his game. He’s got the desire to do it.”

The Rovers game is, of course, one in which United should finally overtake Liverpool as the most successful in the land – at least in terms of domestic league titles. While Ferguson’s outfit has long “knocked Liverpool off their perch”, the Scot claims that continuing to win trophies is all that matters. And with Liverpool experiencing a renaissance under Kenny Dalglish, Ferguson says that the Premier League is set to get tougher in the coming seasons.

“I knew it [getting to 19] would happen at some point because of the history of the club,” added the Scot.

“There is a good structure here. We still produce young players really well and our scouting is good in terms of getting young players into the club at the right time. It would have happened anyway whether that was this year, next year or in 10 years’ time. The history and capability of the club would always have given us a chance.

“Liverpool will be galvanised next season I am sure of that. Kenny has signed a three-year contract that settles the club down and there will be plans. It just makes it more interesting next year. We have spoken for years about the big four but teams like Tottenham have not got back into the Champions League this year and they have had a fantastic season.

“It is going to be really difficult next year. It is going to be very difficult to get 90 points again because of the improvement of teams in the middle and towards the bottom of the Premier League.

“There has been an increase in desire from teams in those positions because the only place you can ever make money in English football is the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Rovers probably require a single point for safety, raising the spectre of a tame Ewood Park draw that suits both parties. Manager Steve Keen is without on loan striker Mame Biram Diouf, who is ineligible to face his parent club. But the 43-year-old can welcome back defender Phil Jones, who has recovered from a back problem, while Michel Salgado and David Dunn are both fit.

Keen’s men are unlikely to face United’s top goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov though, with the Bulgarian again set for the United bench. The striker scored five in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford but has started just one of United’s past 14 fixtures. It is a fall from grace that that corresponds directly to Hernández’ rise.

Yet, on this ground almost around 12 months ago the Bulgarian put in one of his most insipid performances in a Reds shirt, leading to a scoreless draw that ultimately cost United the Premier League title.

It seems unlikely that United, Berbatov or not, will “muck this up” in a similar way on Saturday.

Match Facts
Premier League. Ewood Park, Blackburn. 14 May 2001, 12.45pm.

United – 4411 – Kuszazck; Fabio da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, OShea; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez. Subs from: van der Sar, Brown, Evans, Smalling, Rafael da Silva, Gibson, Owen, O’Shea, Berbatov, Nani, Anderson, Evra.

Rovers – 442 – Robinson; Olsson, Samba, P Jones, Givet; Emerton, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Pedersen; Roberts, Santa Cruz. Subs from: Bunn, Formica, Mwaruwari, Hanley, Rochina, Andrews, Formica, J Jones, Kalinic, Diouf.

Referee: Phil Dowd
Assistant referees: Andy Halliday & Scott Ledger
Fourth official: Kevin Friend

Rovers – DDLLWD
United – DWWLWW

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  1. han says

    Spike said:
    I dreamt that we lost it and had to wait till the last day…ffs following Utd disturbs ya sleep.

    so does having a wet dream…
    ffs am i the only one who is nervous today as i have been since Thursday?
    we need to start off like sunday – an early goal would be just fantastic

  2. says

    A point at Ewood? Not a problem. One thing this side has done convincingly this season is get what they need at the time they need it. I have little fears about this match at all. This was a team that swatted Schalke aside with alarming ease despite people fearing that we might underestimate them.

    Blackburn will be put to the sword from the start. SAF would have told all the big players to win this game and then have next weekend off so they can prepare for Barcelona and they will.

  3. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    I have no fears about today, this is a team we demolished 7-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season, and I can see nothing in them to suggest an upset on the cards. A comprehensive win should be in the bag to confirm the title in style. I reckon 3-0, Rooney, Chicharito and Berbatov to score.

  4. ltel says

    Kus, Fabio, Vidic, Rio, Evans, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Chicharito

    in order

    sheesh you cunt

  5. ltel says

    united sunderland shrewsbury and hudd/bmouth draw is the bet

    did 30 on city to win fa cup..will be happy either way then,

  6. Sidsidney says

    Fuck off

    That all comes from the keeper’s fuck up

    That one moment of bullshit from PIG saw them grow in belief

  7. ltel says

    kzk is a dick.. should have been cleared much earlier i suppose..
    ball in from their left went right across the box and emerton pokd home.. we had 6/7players in the box

  8. Sidsidney says

    Calvino said:
    Goodness me!! What happened people? I am at work arent I?

    PIG dropped the ball earlier on

    They grew in belief, piled on the pressure and scored

  9. Sidsidney says

    So important to sign a sensible normal not weird goalkeeper to replace Van Der Sar

    Otherwise we won’t win anything

  10. Spike says

    Han & Cal

    ffs. do you two only read what you want to?
    We will be lucky to draw this, but I see a lost game cause of a PIG in goal.

  11. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Well… that was fun.

    One more stupid fuck up from Kojak, and he’s got to come off… I’d rather have O’Shea in goal ffs.

  12. Just1n says

    Fair enough the goalie fucked up but it’s not as if we have been creative in the middle of the park. Usual away form from us. Pathetic.

  13. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    PIG is really fucking annoying!! I want to smash the fucker right in his face!!


  14. sheesh says

    PIG has been a fucking liability but, more to the point, why have we been so shit with the ball despite having tons of possession? One header that hit the bar and that’s all we have to show for in terms of chances created.

    Nani is a cunt. That first half exemplifies why he must not start against Barcelona.

    We better not fuck this up today. No excuses.

    Do we want to win the league or what? Wake up you shower of cunts.

  15. Just1n says

    sidney said:
    Another good tackle from Carrick

    He’s been good so far

    Yeah agreed. Tackling intercepting and distribution been spot on.

  16. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    Another good tackle from Carrick

    He’s been good so far

    I’ve a feeling he might score today… he’s getting the space, and he seems to be looking to shoot.

  17. vlad says

    It’s really strange that we didn’t start with Berba.
    He would lack in confidence which he badly needs.

  18. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    We need Berbs… Chico is never going to win a header against this mob.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  19. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    That’s the title…

    But that was never a penalty for me… all Chico did was kick the ball out.

  20. Sidsidney says

    It’s not over by any fucking means

    We can easily leak another goal here

    Play it cool FFS give it to Scholes & Giggs

  21. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    That’s the title…
    But that was never a penalty for me… all Chico did was kick the ball out.

    Defo pen for me
    Robinson took the man and not the ball
    It’s not a goal scoring opportunity like, but he still takes the player out, so it’s a foul

  22. vlad says

    i heard Madrid are offering 20mln for Sweet Pea; is it true?
    Do you think this influenced him before the game?

  23. Sidsidney says

    Blog Commenter said:
    i heard Madrid are offering 20mln for Sweet Pea; is it true?
    Do you think this influenced him before the game?

    Fuck off

  24. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    Defo pen for me

    Robinson took the man and not the ball

    It’s not a goal scoring opportunity like, but he still takes the player out, so it’s a foul

    I know what you’re saying Sid… just not for me… the striker is racing to get to a ball he has no chance of doing anything with… except to look for the pen.

  25. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Big Bobby in the stands again.

    Not just a great player, but one of our greatest fans… I love it.

  26. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    arunk said:
    Just want us to win the Prem without any controversy.

    With all the shit that’s happened this year?????????

    Not possible.

  27. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    We’re playing a very stupid game if we think this is a finished draw… keep pressing for the win… that will finish it.

  28. vlad says

    is 1-1 against Blackburn enough for goodness sake?
    Stretford End was chanting ‘Attack, Attack, Attack’ in November.

  29. arunk says

    sidney said:
    Yeah, but, fuck ‘em

    Enjoy it FFS

    Oh I will. I have waited 34 years for this. Wanted us to do it in style. Maybe we should play Chelsea every week.

  30. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Rio singin…

    “We’ve got our trophy back, we’ve got our trophy back”…


    Wonder who he’s singin to…

  31. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    ANYONE who doesn’t think that was a penalty is quite frankly retarded and has no idea on the rules of football




  32. vlad says

    It might have been a penalty but running to the referees in crowd was disgraceful.
    Still at least they should passion for something which is good!

    (And the record of minimum away wins too)

  33. Spike says

    FFS bri.. read up on the foul rules, the ball kicked out of the game, then Robinson took Chico down, he couldn’t have stopped himself anyhow.
    So fook it

  34. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Spike said:
    FFS bri.. read up on the foul rules, the ball kicked out of the game, then Robinson took Chico down, he couldn’t have stopped himself anyhow.
    So fook it

    So ALL the panel on sky sports are saying the same but WE’RE all wrong!

  35. sheesh says

    Thank God we got the job done. Now these players need a proper rest ahead of Barcelona.

    Relegation battle will be interesting next week. Blackpool pretty much need to beat us to have any hope of staying up. I will be so happy to see West Ham scum go down. Horrible club, horrible fans, etc.

  36. Spike says

    brianofnazareth said:
    So ALL the panel on sky sports are saying the same but WE’RE all wrong!

    FFS, since when did you get your knowledge from overpaid wankers on the telly?
    The ball was miles away when Robinson brought down Chico, Chico kicked it out himself, so Robinson couldn’t get the ball and neither could he have stopped himself from colliding into Chico, most Ref’s side with the Goalie in such situations, as you well know. The Ref gave a easy Pen….and we all know it!

  37. Sidsidney says

    Told you we wouldn’t win this match. Had draw written all over it months ago.

    Just 5 away wins… but 17 home wins – maybe 18 if we beat Blackpool


  38. says

    Still at work and so have not seen the pen. Do I care? Not a jot. We have won. Chelsea needed a dodgy offside decision to beat us and win the title last season – does anyone remember it? Nope.

    Therefore, Congratulations people. We have more games, scored more goals and have a better GD than anyone else; 6 defeats in 57 games in ALL competition and in the Champions League final. We are deservedly champions. The ABUs and the London press can go to hell.

  39. han says

    1 thing that i just can’t work out is the away form in the league this season – it is not abysmal but hardly worth writing home about and yet in europe, SAF had it worked out beautifully; i know teams will attack more on their own turf but 5 victories out of 19 away is perplexing
    oh well, i’m not complaining, just bemused

  40. says

    As far as the PL is concerned my take is that it is because we do not have proper ball winners in midfield. In the PL you have to be able to battle first to be able to get through the home side no matter their position.

    In Europe there is not as much physical challenges to get through; you just play your way into domination.

    Who cares anyway, we are CHAMPIONS!!!

  41. damian garside says

    Congrats everyone. Party hard. Hope we secure the double in brilliant fashion. And the Charity Shield match next year is with City (will be great to beat them in this). This the year that the city of Manchester wins practically everything?

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