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Fergie focus on youth again

ALEX FERGUSON has revealed a transfer fear over the future of young starlet Paul Pogba is one of the major reasons why he has turned his back on Wesley Sneijder.

The Manchester United manager has maintained a consistent stance on Sneijder since he flew out to the USA last month at the start of his club's three-week tour, namely he was not interested in a deal.

There has been evidence to the contrary, with chief executive David Gill hinting there had been discussions at some stage, Sneijder claiming there had been unofficial talks and Ferguson himself being quoted as saying it was make-your-mind-up-time for the Dutchman, even if the United boss distanced himself from that demand.


However, on the eve of his side's opening game at West Brom, Ferguson highlighted the faith he has, not only in the youngsters who dazzled at Wembley in last Sunday's Community Shield, but also in Pogba. Signed as a 16-year-old from Le Havre in 2009, the tall midfielder has made a big impression at Old Trafford and was part of the side that lifted the FA Youth Cup last season.

Ferguson does not need any reminding that Gerard Pique and Guiseppe Rossi made a similar impact on their arrivals from Spain and Italy respectively but eventually left, frustrated at a lack of first-team opportunities. Rossi has now won 24 caps for Italy and is one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe, whilst Pique was part of the Barcelona side that defeated United in two Champions League finals over the past three years, their dominance split by Spain's World Cup final win over Holland, in which the defender also had a central role.

“The young boy Pogba is showing great promise,” said Ferguson. “We are quite positive about him. “If we hold him back, what is going to happen? He will leave in a couple of years' time when his contract has finished. “We have to give him the opportunity to see how he will do in the first team. He has great ability. He has the physique and athleticism. He is a possibility. “We have Darren Fletcher to come back and Michael Carrick tends to develop more from November onwards, so when you take that roll call of players, I am not looking to add to it.”

Not that Ferguson is scared of reminding his inquisitors about the statements he has been making. “I have been saying it for weeks,” he said. “Everyone has been writing differently. We are just carrying on with our business. “You can forget anyone you like. I am happy with the young players I have got.” The chances are Ferguson will revert to experience at the Hawthorns despite the performances of Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at Wembley last Sunday. Yet the Community Shield win over Manchester City did prove United's youngsters have talent in abundance. And Ferguson has shown often enough in his 25 years at Old Trafford that he is not scared to call on it.

“My intention is not to put pressure on anyone. The intention is to get the best team I can on the pitch for United,” he said. “There is an emphasis on young players at this club and there always has been. “A young player, they can threaten anyone. If they have the ability and temperament, there is only one thing you can do, play them. “It is that horrible business of someone's ability being better than yours.”

The message needs to be heeded pretty quickly by the more experienced members of United's squad given there are some star names currently barring the way to a firstteam spot. Ferguson has confirmed David de Gea will be in goal for United's Premier League opener at West Brom. De Gea has been chosen to fill the vacancy created by Edwin van der Sar's retirement despite what many felt was a shaky performance in last weekend's Community Shield encounter with Manchester City. It is not a view Ferguson shares. Although the United boss accepts De Gea got his footwork wrong for Edin Dzeko's second goal, he absolved the former Atletico Madrid man of any blame for the opener, even though it was suggested he should have punched David Silva's inswinging free-kick away from danger.

“When free-kicks come in and defenders are converging, the goalkeeper has no chance,” said Ferguson. “It was interesting there was no criticism of Joe Hart for our first goal, yet it was exactly the same type of goal.”