Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson praises Nani's 'fantastic talent' but will be worried by Phil Jones injury
United beat Reading 2-1 to progress in the FA Cup
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted last night that Luis Nani had left him with a selection headache after his exquisite performance sent Manchester United into the FA Cup quarter-finals and on course to meet Rafael Benitez's Chelsea.
Nani's troubled season in Manchester was compounded by a collision with an unmarked police car in south Manchester last Friday night, which left him uninjured. But the 26-year-old winger could reflect on a performance which may encourage Ferguson to go to new lengths to persuade him to sign a new deal replacing the current contract which expires in the summer of next year.
"He has got great talent, we know about that," Ferguson said of Nani. "He is a fantastic talent. I had a feeling he would win the game for us. You could see he was right on form when he came on: two great strikes immediately and he was a threat to them after that all night. It is a good addition. If he keeps that form it makes my job more difficult." Nani said: "I'm so happy for the time [on the pitch] and I will keep working."
But the gloss was taken off Ferguson's night by an ankle injury which saw Phil Jones substituted before half time and limping out of Old Trafford on crutches with his right foot in a cast. The manager said the ankle injury would be assessed today and that Jones would probably miss Saturday's visit to Queen's Park Rangers. But the player's availability for the home leg of United's Champions League tie with Real Madrid on 5 March is also in doubt – a blow, since he played a crucial role in quelling Cristiano Ronaldo's threat during the 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu last week.
Ferguson said his side had been profligate in front of goal, on a night when the Reading defence were at their best. "If you don't score the goals you should do, and then concede one, then the last 10 minutes can be scary," he said. "At 0-0 you have to be [worried]. They scored the goal and we didn't want the replay. You don't want that. But in fairness we dug in. We defended the long throw-ins into the box which a lot of teams do these days and just hoped they get the final touch. But we could have scored a lot of goals. In that sense, I am satisfied."
His opposite number, Brian McDermott, who hopes to have Noel Hunt available to face Wigan at home on Saturday despite needing staples to a head wound, justifiably argued that his side had no reason to feel they lacked ambition. "[I'm] not regretting anything. It's about having the opportunity to do it. They're a great team and manager who will probably win the league," he said. "Sir Alex was talking about the best squad he has ever had and I wouldn't argue with him. We were right in there right to the end. It was a proper performance for our fans. Now we move on to our next game."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Atletico Madrid closing in on Santi Cazorla - reports
Arturo Vidal: Manchester United bid £39m for Juventus midfielder
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger set to cancel moves for Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin in favour of Jack Wilshere - reports
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal
LA Galaxy vs Manchester United: 'Beautiful goals and beautiful attacks' - Louis van Gaal revels in 'fantastic' 7-0 start
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Rebecca Hall on her film career so far: ‘I’ve played too many repressed neurotics’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia