Date: 30th April 2009 at 2:37pm
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Sir Alex’s priority is the Champions League. He’s confirmed that several times so we mustn’t be surprised that he’s planning to field less than a full-strength team at Middlesbrough on Saturday. After a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford, United have an excellent chance of progressing into the final again but SAF is eager to avoid a similar fate we suffered at the hands of Milan.

“I have got a squad, and I intend to use it,” Fergie said.

“The midfield will change and the players up front will also probably change. I`ll bring some freshness into the team in some important areas.

“There`s Paul Scholes, Darron Gibson, Ji-sung Park and Nani, who didn`t play against Arsenal. But I won`t change my back four, which will be much the same apart from Rio. But up front I`ve got Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck, and they may be involved.”


Well, freshness is required, I agree as we all remember how badly we were overturned by Milan after a physically demanding exertion at Everton two years ago. But with still everything to play for in the league, this gamble might backfire…

It’s no comfort in this case that Boro are, by and large, woeful this season: they will be fighting for their lives and need every point at home. I’d prefer if they were 14th, already assured of survival – then we could easily catch them off their guard.

We do not know who will be rested by Fergie but I guess that as Anderson and Fletcher and Rooney should all play a crucial part at Emirates they won’t start at the Riverside. Their tireless running and defensive work were the bedrocks of United’s dominance but that needs energy so some of it must be conversed for the Arsenal game.

Fergie also added that Wes Brown might return even though he won’t start: the right-back will be eased in with the hope of finally putting his injury nightmare behind him. I hope his excellent last season won’t be his last full campaign at Manchester United…