Ferguson praises form of rotating forwards

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson admits he has struck it lucky with his Manchester United striker rotation policy over the last few weeks. Ferguson has not looked back since dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy for the Carling Cup final on 26 February, opting to play Louis Saha alongside Wayne Rooney.

The France international responded with the second goal in the 4-0 rout of Wigan, retaining his place in the starting XI for the next four wins in the Premiership.

Ferguson eventually restored Van Nistelrooy to the side for the Old Trafford match against West Ham, with the Dutchman scoring the only goal on a night when he also wore the captain's armband. Surprisingly, Van Nistelrooy was again named as a substitute for the victory at Bolton, but stepped off the bench to net the winner in a 2-1 triumph.

On Sunday at home to Arsenal, Van Nistelrooy started but was replaced by Saha just after the hour, with both men playing their part in a 2-0 success that extended United's winning League run to seven matches.

For the remaining five games of the season Ferguson will continue to swap and change, to such an extent that Wayne Rooney may even be rested for Friday's visit of Sunderland.

"I got it right against Arsenal," reflected Ferguson. "I won't always get it right. You are talking about little details and it is very difficult. On Sunday I felt Ruud van Nistelrooy always has a point to prove against Arsenal. We know he really gets up for that game. That is why I felt I should play him. He is a great player.

"It wasn't easy to tell Louis Saha he wasn't in the team, but then it hasn't been easy to tell Ruud either. But Ruud did his job. He was unlucky because he might have scored in the first half.

"Once we went 1-0 up, Louis' strength and pace was a great source of keeping hold of the ball."

Roy Keane's testimonial on 9 May at Old Trafford seems certain to be a sell-out after United confirmed they have already sold 10,000 tickets for the match against Celtic.

The tickets only went on sale on Monday and the early sales indicate the huge affection still held at Old Trafford for Keane despite his surprise departure from the club in November.

The Glasgow side, for whom Keane now plays, have been allocated the entire 25,500-capacity North Stand for the game and are confident they will fill it.

The match, part of Keane's severance from United, is likely to net the former Republic of Ireland captain in excess of £2.5m in gate receipts, although it is believed Keane will donate the money to charity. The 34-year-old has already indicated his intention to give 1,000 tickets away to local school children and United supporters' club branches.

A blaze broke out at Old Trafford yesterday causing firefighters to be called in, the Fire Service said. It started shortly before noon at the rear terrace on the seventh floor of the stadium where construction work was being carried out.

The flames were put out within 40 minutes by three fire engines and an aerial appliance, according to a Manchester Fire Service spokeswoman. She added: "At 12.01pm the Fire Service received one call to a fire at the rear of the terrace at Manchester United Football Club. It was the area of the terrace which is currently a construction site."

The spokeswoman said the fire in the North End was "located on the seventh floor involving scaffolding, propane cylinders and associated equipment."

A spokesman for United said: "It did not affect the rest of the stadium. It was just a minor fire and only a couple of fire engines attended.

"It was put out very quickly and nobody was evacuated. The damage looks superficial, there's probably a bit of black wood somewhere. We're just waiting for the report from the constructors. We might get that later today. There were no knock-on effects for the rest of the stadium."

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