Ferguson's Faith in Cole Being Tested to the Limit
White, Clive, The Independent (London, England)
Manchester United 0 Aston Villa 0
As if the two sitters missed by Andy Cole were not damaging enough to Manchester United's hopes of regaining the Premiership title, Brian Little had to go and rub salt in the wound. "He normally scores against me," said the Villa manager. "In the last two or three years he's stuck in a couple of hat-tricks against us - playing for Newcastle."
With the Geordies' David Ginola facing suspension and Keith Gillespie's vital wing play temporarily denied them because of a hamstring injury, Ferguson thought he was well placed to take advantage of his opponent's supposed weakness. But he did not allow for the profligacy of a pounds 7m striker which is becoming not so much an embarrassment as a handicap.
When the crowd pleaded for Paul Scholes with 20 minutes to go, it was for the purpose of replacing Cole rather than Lee Sharpe. It is an option Ferguson may have to consider from the off next time. Does he continue to back his man in the hope of striking a rich vein of form or does he risk denting his confidence still further by dropping him?
Hitherto Ferguson has displayed the type of blind faith reminiscent of those during the Gold Rush. Now he is at the point of packing up his spade and pan and calling it a day. His comments on the player afterwards were not for publication, not that he said anything that 42,667 other people could not see with their own eyes. …