Flustered Ferguson has to call up all-American hero Howard

Click to follow
The Independent Football

There are few recorded instances of Sir Alex Ferguson giving in to press or public opinion, but in a historic departure the Manchester United manager is doing so by reinstating Tim Howard in goal for the remaining matches of the club's United States tour.

There are few recorded instances of Sir Alex Ferguson giving in to press or public opinion, but in a historic departure the Manchester United manager is doing so by reinstating Tim Howard in goal for the remaining matches of the club's United States tour.

United were taken aback by booing at the end of the goalless draw against Bayern Munich on Sunday and by press criticism for fielding a weak team. On a trip designed to maximise marketing possibilities and public relations as well as players' fitness, the bad publicity - with headlines like "Soccer duel a bummer" - was a serious embarrassment. So the organisers, Champions World, are delighted that Ferguson will play a stronger team against Celtic and Milan, and use the all-American hero Howard at the expense of Ricardo.

"In the face of some of the press, I'll play Tim Howard and leave Ricardo until the Vodafone tournament [next week]," the manager said. "I think it's important that we show we're not taking this as lightly as some people think, because they don't know the circumstances. I'd dearly love to have had all my best players here, as I did last year, and what I'm trying to do is get back to using as strong a side as possible."

The Champions World Series has cost Liverpool their Czech Republic midfielder Vladimir Smicer for at least six weeks. He injured a knee playing in the 5-1 win over Celtic on Monday and is likely to need an operation. If cartilage trouble is diagnosed, Smicer will be missing for even longer. Liverpool, who meet the European champions Porto in Toronto tomorrow, have declined to comment on reports that Harry Kewell's troublesome ankle could also force him to miss the start of the season. Losing the two players who began in the wide midfield positions against Celtic would limit the options of the club's new manager, Rafael Benitez, who has so far made the Spanish defender Josemi from Malaga his only new signing.

Chelsea, the other British team taking part in the 11-match Series, are considering giving a debut to two new signings, Didier Drogba and Tiago Mendes, in tomorrow's game against Roma.

Comments