Ferguson to experiment in the Galatasaray cauldron
Group H:For a distinctly callow Manchester United squad tonight’s appearance at the Turk Telekom Stadium is not so much welcome to hell as, in many cases, simply welcome.
With eight players in the squad yet to make their Champions League debut, and with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes not travelling, this is a weakened team that could yet border on the experimental, testimony both to the fact United have already won Group H with two games to spare and also to the looming Premier League churn of the next six weeks.
“We’re in a great position, we’ve qualified, we’ve got to make sure we play with some pride and we’ve got to be fair to the other teams,” Alex Ferguson said, speaking shortly after United had successfully sidestepped a flare-laden reception at Istanbul Airport.
“We are making a lot of changes but the younger players have all got experience to handle the stage.”
If United have effectively mothballed this competition until February, for Galatasaray, tonight offers an opportunity to make a determined play for second spot in an otherwise open group.
Hence the ominously unrestrained airport reception last night, though much of the effect was dissipated by United leaving the airport via a private terminal.
Ferguson can still call on a strong first 11, with Darren Fletcher set to start in midfield and Javier Hernandez likely to play as a lone striker. There may even be a first appearance this season for Phil Jones, now recovered from his knee injury.Ferguson also hinted at involvement for Nick Powell.