Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bridging the Gap Is Never a Problem for Ferguson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bridging the Gap Is Never a Problem for Ferguson

Article excerpt

Byline: Barclay's account Patrick Barclay

MANCHESTER UNITED are not quite what they were. Never have been in some eyes; even when they responded to the challenge of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea with a hat-trick of titles, Sir Alex Ferguson's players were damned with faint praise, blamed for lacking the inspiration of Eric Cantona, the backbone of Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, and even the precision of David Beckham's right foot.

But Ferguson makes sure he always has enough in his squad to keep serious decline at bay.

Last night was a case in point. The United manager, his defensive resources already stretched by the prolonged injuries of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic, omitted Rio Ferdinand, who still contrives to fit a football career into his political agenda, from the side to face Braga because he wanted the classy but creaking veteran in optimum condition for Sunday's visit to Stamford Bridge.

Michael Carrick deputised unimpressively as Braga took a two-goal lead. …

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