Sunday 22 April 2018

United players will behave in Carling Cup clash, says Ferguson

Mark Ogden

Sir Alex Ferguson claims his Manchester United players are too experienced to fall into the trap allowing Mancunian rivalry to boil over on the pitch in Wednesday’s Carling Cup semi-final second-leg against Manchester City.

City travel to Old Trafford defending a 2-1 lead from last Tuesday’s explosive first-leg, which was marred by a public spat between City’s Carlos Tevez and United captain Gary Neville, plus incidents involving supporters inside and outside the stadium.

Both the Football Association and Greater Manchester Police have contacted the two clubs to stress the need for restraint and warn against further incendiary verbal outbursts from players or officials.

But United manager Ferguson insists that he has no fears over the ability of his players to rise above the hostility.

Ferguson said: “I think we have enough experience of playing in big games to know that (players must behave). It’s always a key factor.

“With feisty games over the years, in terms of the competitive level of Liverpool and Leeds United games since I’ve been here, the players’ behaviour has always been good.

“The players’ behaviour has always been perfect and they play within the rules of the game. We’ve never had any issues with big games.

“I don’t know why you are going on about it. Look at the record. We don’t have any issues with that.

“It’s going to be a fantastic game, maybe even better than last week’s, but we’re ready for it.

“The experience we have will help. It’ll be a good game.

“I don’t think it changes anything, the fact that it is City. That’s why we picked the team we did last week. Finals are always important to us.”

Ferguson is set to field a strong team against City as United attempt to complete a successful defence of the Carling Cup.

Wayne Rooney, fresh from his four-goal display against Hull City on Saturday, is certain to be involved and Ferguson admits that the 24-year-old, who is due to open talks over a new contract in the coming months, is capable of hitting at least 30 goals this season.

Ferguson said: “He’s got 20 now and the crucial part of the season is coming up.

“He could easily get to more than 30. His ratio at the moment suggests that.

“He is realising that, as the main striker through the middle, he is threatening all the time, so he is getting the rewards for that.

“In games recently, for instance against Burnley, he had ten chances. It was unbelievable, but he kept putting them over the bar and by the post. It was just one of those days.

“The thing about that is, as a true striker, they don’t bother about missing chances.

“They know they will get another that comes their way like it did on Saturday. He had two or three chances, but he keeps looking to be in there and that’s good.”

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