Fergie faces up to selection headache
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes he is on the verge of a serious selection dilemma ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Sunderland at Old Trafford. Having won their last eight matches in all competitions, Ferguson is satisfied with how the club's season is progressing.sports Updated: Oct 02, 2009 20:41 IST
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes he is on the verge of a serious selection dilemma ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Sunderland at Old Trafford.
Having won their last eight matches in all competitions, including two Champions League ties to leave them top of Group B, Ferguson is satisfied with how the club's season is progressing.
"We've a strong squad. The problem with having everyone fit is picking the right team," he said on Friday.
"Our two central midfielders - Michael Carrick and Anderson - were fantastic against Wolfsburg, and I thought Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes were outstanding at Stoke. It is giving me a real headache."
United's midfield is beginning to look a little crammed with the players mentioned by Ferguson coming to the boil nicely as the season progresses and Owen Hargreaves is also on the verge of a return from knee injury, heightening Ferguson's 'problems' even further.
However, of all the players whose position in United's starting XI may be under threat, Scholes is the one player Ferguson simply cannot afford to drop at present, despite his 35th birthday rapidly approaching.
"On Saturday against Stoke, Scholes gave an absolutely masterful performance," Ferguson added.
"It was incredible, he had 78 passes in the match and four were off target. Four.
"It's phenomenal rate. As Stoke manager Tony Pulis said after the game, I can't think of a better United player I've seen.
"You can understand that because when you see that kind of performance, it's wonderful.
"Scholes and Giggs are defying their age and the enthusiasm, confidence and maturity that is in their game and it's refreshing to see that players can retain these qualities for such a long time."
United will face Sunderland without England striker Michael Owen, who was substituted early on in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in the Champions League.
However, Ferguson has revealed that his groin injury is not as significant as first feared and that he should make a quicker than expected recovery from the problem.
He said: "It's not as bad as we first thought - there was precaution attached to it, and he should be available next week.
"When he missed the training session maybe should have left him out but we wanted him to play and he wanted to play. He'll be fit for the Bolton Wanderers match."
Ferguson also insisted he had no idea if Wayne Rooney would miss United's Champions League match against CSKA Moscow after the England striker hinted he could skip the trip to Russia to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
Rooney's wife Coleen is due to give birth on October 24. The date is just three days after the CSKA clash and only 24 hours before United take on Liverpool at Anfield.
"I have no idea about Wayne and the baby," Ferguson said. "I don't know anything about it. He has not spoken to me."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is a former United player and was Ferguson's captain when the club did the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1994 and the admiration the United manager felt for Bruce as a player has extended into his managerial career.
"He's had experience of the other side, from down there scrapping at Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, Birmingham, and the job he did at Wigan in his second spell there last time was fantastic, almost getting them into a European place.
"Now he's had the chance to spend some money and he's looking good. Steve's galvanised the club already, and you can see something great happening there. Hopefully not against us on Saturday."