Man U boss backs new generation

AP, Sunday 14 Aug 2011

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes his new generation of players will prove a better investment than long-term target Wesley Sneijder in the upcoming season

Alex Ferguson
Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson (Photo: Reuters)

Manchester United begin their title defence at West Brom on Sunday having spent £60 million on three new signings—David De Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones.

Ferguson has overseen the biggest overhaul of his squad in 15 years with the belief that his side will have to contend with as many as six rivals vying for their Premier League crown.

Yet instead of stepping up his bid to sign Inter Milan playmaker Sneijder, Ferguson will look to the next generation to spark their latest push for silverware.

"You can forget anyone you like (Sneijder), I'm happy with the young players I've got," said Ferguson.

"We've got (Darren) Fletcher to come back and Michael Carrick who tends to develop more around November and December. And there's the young boy Paul Pogba who's showing great promise for us. We're quite positive about him.

"When you take that roll call of players, I'm certainly not looking to add to that. There is an emphasis on young players at this club and always has been. And it is the case for any player that comes through the ranks that they can threaten anyone.

"If they have the ability and the temperament there is only one thing you can do and that is play them."

Manchester United head to the Hawthorns for their opening game before they face five major title rivals before the end of October.

The bookmakers' favourites won just five times away from Old Trafford last season and it's an area Ferguson is keen to address, especially as he anticipates such a major threat to his team's chances of lifting a 20th title.

"Last season was our worst record in the Premier League away from home - and our best at home. What do we do about it?" he added.

"I was surprised with the number of points we dropped away from home. We would settle for last season's home record again. But we can't bank on that."

Ferguson, who has confirmed new £18 million goalkeeper de Gea will make his league debut, added: "If you remember our game at West Brom last season I thought we were pretty lucky.

"We won the game 2-1 but they missed a penalty. So we expect a tough game and that's what you have to say from the Premier League."

Meanwhile, Patrice Evra is doubtful with a foot injury, while Fletcher and Antonio Valencia will make their comeback next week for the reserves after overcoming a virus and an ankle injury respectively.

Javier Hernandez is 10 days away from a return to football duty after a bout of concussion.

New West Brom signing Shane Long is in line to make his debut against the champions and could lead the line alone with Peter Odemwingie a major doubt with an ankle problem.

The Republic of Ireland striker snubbed interest from Leicester and fellow Championship outfit West Ham to join from Reading this week and he is relishing the challenge which awaits.

"Hopefully we can hit the ground running against Manchester United," he said.

"Facing Manchester United on your debut is what dreams are made of. "I'm really looking forward to it now. A lot of my friends and family are United fans. Hopefully we can put on a good performance and cause an upset.

"I feel ready to start and if the head coach wants me to. My fitness is up there and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Manager Roy Hodgson remains hopeful former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves will agree to join with the England international currently mulling over an offer.

He said: "I can say no more than discussions are ongoing. It would be nice if he wants to join us. That would be another great addition to the squad."

Zoltan Gera misses out through suspension and will almost certainly be joined on the sidelines by Gareth McAuley (illness).

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