Ferguson banks on Kleberson to buck trend

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson nodded his assent when asked if signing South Americans presented greater problems than any other type of player.

Sir Alex Ferguson nodded his assent when asked if signing South Americans presented greater problems than any other type of player.

The figures on the balance sheet show just how hard, even for a man of Ferguson's experience. Juan Sebastian Veron was sold to Chelsea at a £14m loss while last Friday Diego Forlan went to Villareal for some £5.5m less than Manchester United paid for him. The Argentinian, Gabriel Heinze, has not been seen at Old Trafford since his signing from Paris St Germain in June and the club have resorted to leaving messages with his wife to check his fitness during the Olympic football tournament.

The pressure on Kleberson to deliver is therefore intense. For someone who came to Manchester as a World Cup winner, his impact last season was desultory, a mere 10 Premiership starts and fewer decisive moments. The 25-year-old will begin the second leg of tonight's Champions' League qualifier with Dinamo Bucharest with his manager expecting more than he received last season.

"Some players take time to settle into a club and that was the case with Kleberson," Ferguson said. "I think he will be better this year; you saw him in the World Cup and that's where I got my information on him."

Kleberson might prove his manager right, although he does not seem obviously better than Nicky Butt or Phil Neville, is more obviously injury-prone and faces regular wearying flights to Brazil for international games. There was, however, little point in persevering with Forlan, as he himself admitted.

"It was difficult for Diego to spend two and a half years on the bench," Ferguson reflected. "We had a long chat and I couldn't not agree with what he was saying. He said: 'I need to play first-team football, I am 25, I came from South America and thought I was going to have a great career here'. That's why we decided to do it."

Ferguson said it was unlikely there would be further spending before the transfer window closed, which appears to rule out a bid for Wayne Rooney until January. The United chief executive, David Gill, has in any case offered some mild recent criticism of Ferguson's record as a last-minute buyer and with Louis Saha likely to return as a substitute for Saturday's game at Blackburn, there is little pressing need to enter the transfer market.

Although Newcastle beat Partizan Belgrade away and then lost at St James' Park, it seems almost inconceivable Dinamo Bucharest could pull off a repetition at Old Trafford tonight, especially as, 2-1 down from the first leg, they may need to win by two clear goals, or by one while scoring twice.

Dinamo appear in no real shape for tonight's game. Their manager, Ioan Andone, virtually wrote off their chances after the first leg, they have just lost the Bucharest derby to Steaua and three players have been left behind in Romania after a contractual dispute. And yet, as Ferguson pointed out, "we don't need Newcastle as a warning, football itself is a warning.

"There is always a danger with our team that they can be careless. It's in their nature, they are always wanting to go forward. In European football, you always need to guard against the counter-attack. There should be a big red flag put up in the middle of the pitch, spelling danger against the counter attack. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to return to mentioning that red flag in the dressing-room." As a one-time trade-unionist, red flags should be in Ferguson's blood and those of his teams.

Manchester United: (probable 4-4-1-1) Howard; G Neville, Keane, Silvestre, Fortune; Fletcher, Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, Giggs; Scholes; Smith.

Dinamo Bucharest: (probable 3-5-2) Monteano; Galamaz, Ciobotariu, Iordache; Margaritescu, Pacurar, Balan, Semeghin, Petre; Danciulescu, Niculescu.

Referee: M Merk (Germany).

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