In his weekly press conference and before the FA Cup Quater Final tie against Chelsea, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Phil Jones will miss the game recovering from his ankle injury against Reading. Jones will be out for another week, likely making his comeback against the same team in the league, while Ryan Giggs will be rested.
"Giggs won't play because he was the best player on the pitch on Tuesday. He's done his bit for us this week. Now we'll rest him and prepare him for next week."
It's safe to say there are no arguments there. It's unlikely that Giggs was going to play in two knockout games in a row, and this was likely planned in advance. Such was Giggsy's age-defying performance that prepping him for the Real Madrid game was probably documented as a case study for sports science.
Earlier, the Gaffer was off to a flyer, laying into the press for the Wayne Rooney exit rumors. Rooney was benched for the ultra-important home tie against Madrid, leading to some speculation that he might be offloaded this summer.
"The Wayne Rooney issue first? Or do you want to talk sense?"
Sir Alex continued, explaining that all was well between him and his
hot-blooded tepid-to-warm-blooded striker.
"He understood the reasons for not playing him and that was completely tactical. And I think I was right. We don't always get it right but I think we did get it right"
What was most interesting, however, was what followed:
"Danny Welbeck is the best player we have in terms of operating in a double role. We had to choke Xabi Alonso's ability to control the game, which Danny did."
Rooney was probably the best in the world at playing a combative, box-to-box type of #10 role a couple of seasons back. However, the management clearly sees Rooney now as an out-and-out striker, something this community has alluded to given his decreasingly effective defensive performances since that fateful night in Wembley in 2011. It is entirely possible that Rooney may well be deployed as a second striker when paired with Chicarito or Robin Van Persie - however what this tells us is that he will not be expected to make those lung-bursting efforts to close down oppositions. Still, this is interesting news as it confirms many fans' fears that Rooney and RvP may be stepping on each other toes a little bit. How their talents will be managed is a fascinating developing story.
While confirming that Rooney will feature against Chelsea, the Gaffer also indicated that Shinji Kagawa may start, by remarking that his was the more surprising omission in the midweek game.
"I left out Shinji Kagawa who scored a hat-trick and nobody mentioned that. I thought I might get more criticism for that. "
surprising expected response to the midweek setback, Sir Alex was at his combative best, promising the fans a response against Chelsea, a team he remarked had an outstanding record in this competition in the recent past.
"It is my job to galvanise the troops, who were fantastic on Tuesday and so were the fans. We owe them a good performance on Sunday. One thing we don't do is give in. We'll get up off our backsides and make sure we're ready for Sunday. A big game's probably the best thing for us and a home tie as well."
It's clear that as is the United way, the Boss has taken the defeat in his stride and looking at the positives from it. He alluded to the squad depth too - something that may be vitally important as we contemplate going for the double.