- Premier League
Ferguson expects difficult decisions during run-in
Sir Alex Ferguson is bracing himself to disappoint more of his players when he names his team to face Real Madrid on Tuesday but has assured them they all have a vital part to play in Manchester United's run-in.
Ferguson could not even find a place on the bench for Nemanja Vidic, Nani or Ashley Young when United drew 1-1 in the Bernabeu a fortnight ago, while Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Javier Hernandez were unused substitutes.
But with United mounting a three-pronged challenge for honours in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup, Ferguson is convinced they will all be crucial in the next three months, and urged his fringe players to emulate their counterparts in United's Treble-winning campaign of 1998-99.
Ferguson is expected to make several changes for Saturday's home game against Norwich, which comes three days before the rematch with Real, but told MUTV: "It is very difficult to rotate the squad at the moment.
"They all wanted to play against Real Madrid and there were a lot of disappointed players. That was fantastic. It is a measure of their own confidence in themselves."
Ferguson looked back to the last season his team won three major trophies and his attempts to plan for all eventualities when picking his team.
He added: "In 1999 I left Paul Scholes out of the [Champions League] quarter-final against Inter Milan yet he was the one who scored the goal that got us through.
"I left him out of the semi-final because I couldn't risk him and Roy Keane together as they were both on yellow cards. He accepted it graciously, came on, got booked and missed the final anyway. What did he do? He didn't let it affect him. He went on to become one of the greatest players this club has ever had."
With Keane and Scholes suspended, winger Jesper Blomqvist was promoted to the starting line-up for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, and Ferguson believes his squad players could again play a pivotal part in their pursuit of three trophies.
He said: "The players sense it could be a big year for them. But at this club, in this situation, anything can happen on the run-in. Players can all of a sudden find themselves playing in a final or an important league game because that is the kind of squad I have."