Manchester United fans have come to expect that when Sir Alex Ferguson makes a decision that seems a little controversial or odd, there's a rhyme or reason to it that even the top football brains wouldn't understand.
Time and time again Ferguson has proven his critics wrong, to the point that now a right of passage for most established football journalists is that at some point in their careers, they have thought ill of the legendary manager and been embarrassingly and painstakingly shown they were wrong.
And once again, Ferguson looks set to show those who have doubted his decisions this week that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
On Saturday, the Scot told reporters that Liverpool v Manchester United was the English equivalent of Real Madrid playing Barcelona, and around the globe, it was even bigger.
The curious decision to then start Danny Welbeck and Park Ji Sung up-front left many football pundits confused and disappointed with Ferguson’s decision not to play attacking football and challenge Liverpool to an exciting do-or-die match up.
But last night, as Wayne Rooney scored a brace to give United their first Champions League win this season, Ferguson showed why he is the master of tactics and is the best manager to take on and defeat big-spending Manchester City in the race for the title this weekend.
Last year’s joint top scorer in the Barclays Premier League, Dimitar Berbatov, hasn’t been used by Ferguson in the Liverpool and Champions League matches, and the striker will be available alongside Michael Owen and a rested Welbeck should the manager need to call on them to deliver on Sunday.
And Javier Hernandez has only had to play 105 minutes over two games this week, leaving him fresh and raring to go alongside Rooney, who is coming off a confidence-boosting scoring spree that has put him in pole position as the highest scoring English player in the Champions League.
Ferguson may have copped some flack for saying the Liverpool match was the biggest club game in the world, but he’s surely much more concerned with winning the league than a one-off match.
While Barcelona and Real Madrid may never field a second string squad against one another, the Spanish sides are fighting for the La Liga title, Champions League trophy and bragging rights over every Spanish domestic cup. United, meanwhile, are still strokes above Liverpool in England and Europe, and if the Red Devils gift the Anfield club two points, it won't be likely to affect their title charge from a direct point of view in the long run.
And while Ferguson no doubt understands the hype and rivalry surrounding Manchester United and Liverpool, the manager would rather show City that United are the deserved title winners, as well as proving on the European stage that the Red Devils are going nowhere.
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