Football: Ferguson keen to indulge Scholes with final treat
Sir Alex Ferguson has displayed the well-disguised sentimental side of his character promising Paul Scholes that he will play in this season's Champions League final if...
MANCHESTER, England, March 3, 2008 - Sir Alex Ferguson has displayed
the well-disguised sentimental side of his character promising Paul Scholes
that he will play in this season's Champions League final if Manchester United
make it that far.
United face Lyon at Old Trafford on Tuesday in the second leg of their
second round tie with the French champions.
After a 1-1 draw in the first meeting between the sides, a goalless draw
will be enough to take United into the last eight and leave them two ties from
their first final since their 1999 triumph over Bayern Munich.
Scholes, along with then-captain Roy Keane, missed that famous evening in
Barcelona through suspension and Ferguson, a disciplinarian manager not
normally associated with acts of indulgence, would love to see the midfielder
make amends for that disappointment nine years later.
"There must have been disappointment," Ferguson recalled. "Players of that
calibre, with his record in football, he would have missed that just the same
"There wouldn't be any difference in the two of them, to miss the biggest
club game in the world, must have an impact. But he wouldn't have let it
destroy him either because he has achieved so much. But hopefully if we get to
the final this year he will get his opportunity.
"I'm not a sentimental man, my job is to manage the club. But I would be
sentimental on that one. He knows himself, he's only 33, he looks after
himself, he'll be alright."
Ferguson was extremely satisfied with United's first leg showing although
he is aware that, in forward Karim Benzema, Lyon possess a player capable of
producing an upset.
"If you assess the game, Lyon were at home and their attitude was to make
sure we didn't score a goal which is happening in Europe now," said the Scot.
"The threat of the away goal is a lot.
"I thought for the most part we controlled the game without making many
chances, Edwin van der Sar didn't have a save to make. When we lost the goal
we had a job to do. We made substitutions that improved us, Nani and Tevez
gave us more threats, and I think we deserved a draw.
"Benzema is the goalscorer in the team. Him and Juninho from setpieces are
a 100 per cent threat to us and we have to be aware of that.
"Benzema plays as a lone striker and he's a goal threat because of that.
The manner in which Benzema took his chance tells you he can score out of
nothing and you worry about players who can score out of nothing."
Benzema has been at the centre of a minor dispute between the clubs since
the first meeting as Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has accused Ferguson of
'destabilising' their forward by allegedly declaring his interest in buying
Ferguson has responded with a claim that Aulas was being "mischievous."
"When I was over watching them play, I was having a bite to eat with him
then he came out and said I had been discussing Benzema with him. I never
mentioned Benzema to him. He's maybe trying to swing a bit of favour to his
Ryan Giggs is expected to play after shaking off a calf problem that kept
him out of Saturday's 3-0 win at Fulham while both Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne
Rooney should be firing on all cylinders after spending most of that match on
Lyon warmed up for Tuesday's match with an impressive 1-0 win away to Lille
that represented a significant boost to their quest for a seventh straight
It was their first win on the road in the league since November 24 but the
promising omen offered by Brazilian striker Fred's winner was offset by fresh
signs of the animosity between Benzema and teammate Hatem Ben Arfa.
Lyon boss Alain Perrin must decide whether to ask centreback Cris to play
two matches in the space of three days following the Brazilian defender's
return from a six-month injury lay-off in the win over Lille.
"We will see with Cris how he reacts to Saturday's match but he is a player
we need in the key weeks of the season," Perrin said. "The longer we wait the
less valuable he will be to us."