There is another chance on the Costa Blanca tonight for Carlos Tevez to resurrect a desperate season which began with a prospective £32m permanent move to Old Trafford but is now suggesting that Manchester United are prepared to spend in other ways.
The club will attend an Independent Review Panel hearing in Sheffield on Friday at which they will argue that the 21-year-old Serbian midfielder Zoran Tosic should be given a work permit to underpin an £8m move from Partizan Belgrade. Tosic, who would appear to a natural successor to Ryan Giggs on Manchester United's left, has nine goals in 20 games this season.
Further competition stored up ahead for Tevez, but the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, had only a wry smile last night for reports on Real Madrid's interest in the Argentine, which surfaced in the Spanish paper Marca yesterday. "No, I've not spoken to Tevez [about it]," Ferguson said. "I think we're used to them talking to our players. I think we should stick to the game. There's plenty of time for Real Madrid throughout the season."
Ferguson, who, like the Villarreal manager, Manuel Pellegrini, needs just a point at El Madrigal stadium here to wrap up qualification from Group E, will not discuss whether talks on the deal to convert Tevez's two-year loan from Media Sports Investments into a permanent signing are under way.
The United manager was far more conclusive about a player with defined links to Real. Cristiano Ronaldo received almost as much abuse from Aston Villa's fans three days ago as he had from Stoke's a week earlier and despite his responses to opposing fans – waves and dances to Stoke's, a raised finger telling Villa supporters that he considers himself the No 1 – Ferguson rejected suggestions that he cannot take abuse. "I wonder how many people take it when you are walking down the street and someone hits you over the head with a baton," Ferguson said. "How many times can you take it? I thought on Saturday he showed admirable courage. He wanted the ball as he always does. That's the mantle you carry when you're a great player and he knows that." And of Ronaldo's decision to give some back: "Tell me someone who likes being abused – will you point them out to me?" Ferguson said.
Ronaldo is keen to play again tonight, though Ferguson said he "would rather leave him out" and his decision to leave Edwin van der Sar in Manchester reflects a man preparing for Sunday's Manchester derby.
Three previous Champions League meetings between these sides have not yielded a single goal and United have just one win in 17 games in Spain. But a firing Tevez will help.
Villarreal (probable, 4-4-2) Lopez; Venta, Rodriguez, Cygan, Capdevila; Cazorla, Senna, Eguren, Pires; Rossi, Franco.
Manchester United (possible, 4-2-3-1) Kuszczak; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Anderson; Rooney, Giggs, Nani; Tevez.
Referee: R Rosetti (It).
'Sorry, Frank, no dinner... we lost to Charlton'
Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday provided an insight into how he is learning to take things in his stride, when he revealed that his obsession with ManchesterUnited once led him to cancel dinner with Frank Sinatra 19 years ago. "I was supposed to have dinner with him one night, but we lost to Charlton so I cancelled it and went home," he said. "I wasn't in the mood to meet anybody that night. There was a period, maybe 10-12 years ago, when I was obsessed with everything. If I'd have carried on, I would probably have done myself some damage."Reuse content