Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Alex Ferguson to play clever against Mancini's Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United have vowed to treat next Sunday's Community Shield as part of their pre-season campaign despite the “tasty” nature of their clash with Manchester City.

It is less than four months since City overcame their old rivals in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, the penultimate stage in ending a 35-year trophy drought.

On the same day Roberto Mancini's men were completing that significant task, United secured their record 19th league title, ensuring the most significant warm-up for the Premier League campaign will be between the two Manchester giants for the first time since 1956.

It seemed certain the significance of the occasion would have some bearing on Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics.

However, United assistant-manager Mike Phelan is adamant the match will be used for fitness, even if the stakes are rather higher than normal.

“It is no different,” said Phelan. “It is a tasty one of course because it is the two Manchester clubs coming up against each other.

“But we may try out a few new things. We have a week to prepare.

“The FA Cup semi-final was disappointing. But this is a new season. We will have a look at a few new players to see if they can handle it and take us into the league. That is what it is all about.

“Manchester United is all about challenges. You get them every day. Next week will be no different.”

If there was anything to be gleaned from Ferguson's assessment of United's impressive 2-1 win over Barcelona in front of almost 82,000 at FedEx Field, it is that England Under-21 midfielder Tom Cleverley has put himself right in the frame.

As long as confusion surrounds a planned move for Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder — Ferguson has denied tabling a take-it-or-leave-it offer for the Dutchman — United will have to make do with what they have.

And Cleverley could be the main beneficiary.

Ferguson made him man-of-the-match against a Barcelona side that might have been lacking Lionel Messi and Xavi but still boasted plenty of experience.

“It an area we have to find a solution for,” said the United boss.

“Physically, Tom is not the strongest but he is wiry and has a great idea of the game. He is a good footballer. His discipline was terrific. He is a quick passer of the ball. He has good eyes.

“It was a big night for him. He is a big, strong possibility for us to start the season.”

l Arsenal were booed by their own fans after letting another lead slip to surrender the Emirates Cup to New York Red Bulls.

The response of the 60,000 inside the Emirates Stadium did not bode well for the new season, with the Gunners doing nothing to prove they had cured the frailties which caused their supporters so much suffering last term.

As in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Boca Juniors, who they led 2-0, Arsenal were unable to close out a game they dominated, with substitute Kyle Bartley putting through his own net six minutes from time.

That was after Robin van Persie had put the tournament hosts on course for a fourth Emirates Cup success out of five when he nodded home shortly before half-time.

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