Ferguson summons his stylists for glamour of Milan show

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Manchester United and Celtic wrap up their United States tours today against the two leading Italian sides from last season. United take on the Serie A champions Milan in New York's Giants Stadium at lunchtime (6.0pm BST) and Celtic, who have followed Liverpool over the border to Canada, meet the runners-up Roma in Toronto this evening (1.0am BST).

Manchester United and Celtic wrap up their United States tours today against the two leading Italian sides from last season. United take on the Serie A champions Milan in New York's Giants Stadium at lunchtime (6.0pm BST) and Celtic, who have followed Liverpool over the border to Canada, meet the runners-up Roma in Toronto this evening (1.0am BST).

Unexpectedly, following their 2-1 defeat by the Scottish champions, it is United who are seeking a first victory of the trip. Paul Scholes and Mikaël Silvestre, expecting a more extended rest after Euro 2004, have been summoned from England to play as Sir Alex Ferguson reacts vigorously to criticism for fielding such a weak side in the opening game against Bayern Munich - a tedious goalless draw that the Germans won on penalties. Scholes, Silvestre, Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs and Diego Forlan will all start as Ferguson seeks the right balance between pleasing the large crowds and preparing his players properly in a demanding schedule.

"I always want to win," he said. "Last year we had all our players here and it was all nice and smooth. This time our pre-season has been very fragmented." Ruud van Nistelrooy and Louis Saha have remained at home for treatment, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gabriel Heinze must report for Olympic duty and now the Brazilian midfielder Kleberson has returned from the Copa America with a knee injury, as well as a winner's medal, which will keep him out for up to a month.

The injury list also includes Quinton Fortune, Darren Fletcher and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, so there will be further chances today and in two Vodafone Cup matches at Old Trafford next week for some of the youngsters who have already appeared on the tour. Chris Eagles has made more of an impression with wild tackles on Bayern's Michael Ballack and Celtic's Alan Thompson than for his other work in midfield, but the American Jonathan Spector has shown up well in defence alongside Roy Keane, which Ferguson calls "the greatest benefit he'll ever get, like the Sorbonne finishing school". The 3-5-2 system used so far is unlikely to be seen much this season, however, and may be ditched today now that Brown and Silvestre are available to play in the middle of a back-four.

Meanwhile, Celtic conclude an exhausting four-game tour in Toronto. Their manager Martin O'Neill, who arrived in time for the triumph over United after better news of his wife's illness, has admitted his club took on one game too many. "We've got four games in eight days, because it's a lucrative trip, and would probably have preferred one less and more time to prepare," he said.

The main consolation for his team, apart from beating United, has been the form of the young, quick striker Craig Beattie who has scored all four goals in the three games so far.

Comments