Fergie mulls changes for Champions League test
Sir Alex Ferguson plans to ring the changes as Manchester United look to secure their first Champions League win of the season against FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday.sports Updated: Sep 26, 2011 23:24 IST
Sir Alex Ferguson plans to ring the changes as Manchester United look to secure their first Champions League win of the season against FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Last season's beaten finalists are already expected to be missing in-form striker Wayne Rooney, who tweaked a hamstring in training last week and missed Saturday's hard-fought 1-1 draw at Stoke.
But Ferguson is also anticipating making several other changes in an attempt to keep his squad match-sharp for the challenges ahead.
"I do need to get all the squad moving," Ferguson said. "I think there will be changes on Tuesday."
After a marauding start to the English Premier League season, United were dealt a reality check in their opening Champions League fixture earlier this month when they came from behind to force a 1-1 draw at Benfica.
"I think we got a positive result against Benfica," Ferguson said. "Hopefully we can strengthen our position."
Ferguson is wary of the threat posed by Tuesday's Swiss opponents, who are coached by Thorsten Fink, a member of the Bayern Munich team beaten by United in the 1999 Champions League final.
"Basel are a decent side. I spoke to (Fink) at the UEFA conference and he's done a good job."
Ferguson believes three more wins in Group C -- which also includes Romanian side Otelul Galati -- will be enough to carry United into the knockout phase.
"If you get to 10 points, you know you're into the next stage but we'd like to win the group any way. If we win our next three games, we can utilise the squad.
"It would definitely help and we've done that over the years. It's sometimes backfired -- I played a fresh team over in Fenerbahce and they beat us 3-0.
"Although I want to make changes I don't want an embarrassment. So changes have got to be made with a mind of still winning the game."
One of the changes Ferguson may be contemplating is a place in the starting line-up for former England striker Michael Owen.
Owen played for 80 minutes of the draw at Stoke on Saturday following the substitution of Javier Hernandez, and with Rooney also absent it could open the door for the 31-year-old former European Footballer of the Year.
Ferguson surprised many by offering Owen a new one-year contract at the end of last season and remains an avowed admirer of the striker.
"If you need a goal out of nothing there's no one better in the game," Ferguson said. "England don't have anyone else like that.
"He's got it, there's no doubt about that. Let's be honest, Michael has that little gift that he can appear in the box from nowhere.
"With Michael it's getting to that point where you say to yourself you really need to think about him more."
Basel, who top the group after downing Otelul Galati in the opening round of fixtures, will be weakened by the suspension of midfielder Benjamin Huggel and teenage Swiss international striker Xherdan Shaqiri.
Fink's side also head into the match following a blip in their league campaign, being held 1-1 by FC Thun on Saturday to slip to fourth in the table, eight points behind early season pace-setters Lucerne.
First Published: Sep 26, 2011 09:48 IST