Manchester United - Pompey (h): Will SAF Rotate Again?
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Pompey (h): Will SAF Rotate Again?

While lazy pundits still blame Liverpool's troubles (though they seem to be easing of late) on rotation, Fergie quietly changes half of his team for every game...

After the Scholes-Hargreaves midfield did a splendid job at Fulham, Sir Alex replaced them with Carrick and Fletcher for the Champions League encounter with Lyon. Park who scored at Craven Cottage was left out of the squad against the French champions while Vidic, Rooney, Ronaldo and Anderson all returned to the starting line-up.

Tomorrow we face Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter-final and the big question is that will Fergie rotate again? Just a few names who did not start against Lyon: Giggs, Saha, O'Shea, Scholes, Hargreaves, Park... I would not be surprised if all of them were in the starting eleven come tomorrow 12.45.

Starting Saha is necessary, we need to give him as many games as possible. He wasn't at his best against Fulham but looks more and more sharp. Park is another one who still needs games if the boss wants him to play a significant part during the run-in. No news about Gary Neville yet but sooner or later he's bound to play a game as no setbacks have been reported for a while now.

I reckon Giggs might be back into the starting eleven though it's not certain that he's shrugged off his latest injury. Scholes will definitely be back but I'd suggest to play him with Carrick alongside him as we've seen in the league game against Harry Redknapp's side.

Is this constant chopping and changing good? At some teams (like Liverpool) rotations is blamed because of the lack of quality players to cover for those rested. It's not a problem at United as Fletcher or Carrick can do the job just as well as Scholes, Anderson or Hargreaves. Up front we are short on options but that's why we should seize every opportunity to give a rest to the overworked Tevez-Rooney pair (all right, the Roonster is not someone who you would associate with tiredness, especially as he missed huge chunks of the season due to injury).

It's in the back where Fergie does not like to change and for two good reasons. First, a good defence is a settled defence which's members work in total harmony. That requires a certain amount of experience of playing together. Seeing that our defensive excellence is consistently there throughout the season there's no reason to complain.

Last season, we were outclassed in Milan and generally ran out of steam for the end of the season due to tiredness, injuries and lack of cover. Now we have embarassment of riches in the area that is most prone to suffer from fatigue: midfield. If Saha stays fit we'll have much better options up front than last season - if he doesn't, I'd still say the Rooney, Tevez pair is better than having Rooney, Smith and Solskjaer for the last part of the season (sorry Ole but at 34, after several knee operations... you are still a legend though!)

The crucial area is defence. There we do not have many options, and those we have are not encouraging... If those injury problems of last season hit that section again we'll be in trouble and could suffer at the end, especially in Europe. If Evra, Vidic and Ferdinand are fit for the run-in, we have hope.

So I'd say Fergie will rotate tomorrow and with good reason. Hopefully we'll reap the rewards of it come May.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday March 7 2008

Time: 6:49PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Slight difference here, Sir Alkie knows his PL, Rafa the Pie eating king knows feck all about the PL.
Blue is the colour
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07/03/2008 19:05:00

He surely will show 'Arry the respect that he and Pompey deserve and field a strong team, knowing Pompey are the sort of team that might bite you in the arse if you go easy.
Report Abuse
07/03/2008 19:13:00

that's true though the point of the article is that it's difficult not to field a strong team at the moment... hargreaves and scholes replacing carrick and fletcher, surely that can't be called underestimating the opponent?
Report Abuse
07/03/2008 20:18:00

or maybe, he will see pompey are in dire need of ressurecting there season, and so will field a weak side and let us an old friend a favour...i can wish...
Report Abuse
07/03/2008 20:31:00

Yes, field your under 16s. Save your strength for winning the premier league & champions league. I so badly want to see Pompey at Wembley, even for a semi.
Report Abuse
07/03/2008 20:32:00

The semis will be at Wembley? Anyway, I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were a Pompey fan. The injustice of us being blasted for dishonouring the FA Cup in 2000 still rankles with Fergie therefore he takes it seriously. And they have quite a woeful record at Old Trafford...
Report Abuse
07/03/2008 20:37:00

Yeah well for all the big teams, you can make close to wholesale changes and still put out a strong team. Do you think Ronaldo/Rooney will be benched though? I think one of them will be and Tevez will start.
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 10:24:00

extra cup game to play, premier league rearranged, goal keeper injured,reserve keeper suspended,losing in the cup,it looks like The Arsenal got the better deal eh lads,even if you draw you still have an extra game.....
fran merida
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08/03/2008 14:31:00

Loss to Pompey, serves u right for d cockiness shown against Arsenal. You hv to learn to respect other professionals especially on an off day. You are definitely not winning anything this year!!!
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 15:16:00

why do arsenal fans think they have anything to do with our match today. get over it, your time came and you coulsnt beat us..pompey could. well done to pompey and i hope you go all the way. arsenal fans....fu(k off, your constant moaning is as boring as arsene wengers life.
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 15:38:00

what do we have to do with it? adams,campbell, lauren, kanu ,diarra....why are you getting angry,are you feeling the pressure again? lol
fran merida
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08/03/2008 15:58:00

u4l, its getting to you eh!! What do u expect when retired Arsenal boys do u over
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 16:15:00

haha boyzz, looneyisgod, u4l, too much talking eh last week guys, i told yu open your mouth at the end of the season, we'll go four points clear tomm and then catch us if yu can scumbags..
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 17:12:00

and yu should really consider playing rooney in goal cuz the fat granny shagging ******** can't score to save his life lol..
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 17:14:00

we spoke so much cause we ripped u apart in the cup and u dropped 4 points in 2 games. need i say more. and luckys at kleast rooney has a chance 2 score goals unlike u eduardo
Report Abuse
08/03/2008 21:45:00

a little inapropriate there Rooneyis(not)God... Pompey and arsenal have a very strog relationship, maybe becuase we have so many ex-arsenal players (although we also have a fair share of ex spurs players) or maybe because they beat us 5-1 in the fa cup, and we loved every minute of it, or maybe it is just something that you have to go deeper to see tht teams can respect eachother for what they do (something some man u fans may never understand). it was a fair result, but i think your coaching staff need to keep an eye on what they say - insulting the ref? bang out of order.
Report Abuse
09/03/2008 00:01:00

What no match report? Sometimes you get judged not on winning but how you conduct yourself in defeat.
Report Abuse
09/03/2008 15:19:00

thats man u's best hope of a trophy this season gone. i'm not sure whats rarer - pompey beating man u or a penalty for the away side at OT. well done to the arsenal retirement home, you deserved it!
Report Abuse
09/03/2008 15:23:00

our best chance but yet we are still favourites for the champs league and the premiership. you are gonna get knocked out the title race worse then hayes knocking out enzo.
Report Abuse
09/03/2008 15:35:00

yu are favourites for the cl and pl my arse when yu cant even beat pompey at home lol!!
the arsenal
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09/03/2008 16:51:00

hha ha at least our slip up werent in the premier league youve had 3 pl games with out a win. and check with the bookies we r favourties.
Report Abuse
09/03/2008 19:27:00


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