Sir Alex Ferguson declared yesterday that "you can forget" the idea of Manchester United signing Internazionale's Wesley Sneijder, as the manager was happy to advance with the new crop of emerging young players at the club.
Ferguson, who deflected criticism away from his 20-year-old goalkeeper David de Gea by asking why no one had criticised the Spaniard's opposite number, Manchester City's Joe Hart, in the Community Shield, declared that he was "certainly not looking to add" to his "roll call of players".
It has never been Ferguson's strategy to seek a like-for-like replacement for a player, such as Paul Scholes: he creates a side out of the players he has. Yesterday, Ferguson said the purchase of another midfielder would only hold back the progress of 18-year-old French midfielder Paul Pogba, whom United risk losing in two years' time.
"We'll have to give him opportunities to see how he can do in the first team. He's got the ability, the physique and the athleticism," Ferguson said of the key member of United's FA Youth Cup winning side. "He's a possibility."
Tom Cleverley's emergence as an incisive midfield playmaker at Wembley underlined his potential and Ferguson insisted De Gea, 20, would play in United's opener at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, despite acknowledging his technical failure in not gathering Edin Dzeko's 30-yard shot which gave Manchester City a 2-0 interval lead last Sunday. "He was stepping forward as the shot was about to be hit and then he took a step back and got himself a bit unbalanced," Ferguson said.
"It wasn't so much a goalkeeping mistake but more of a technical mistake in terms of his feet. But we didn't expect that and he won't be doing that again. It was just one of those things. The ball did move a bit about 2ft – but he will be fine."
Comparing Joleon Lescott's headed opening goal past De Gea with Chris Smalling's against Hart, Ferguson said, with some irritation: "It was interesting there was no criticism of Joe Hart. It was exactly the same type of goal, and he's your bloody national goalkeeper. The goalkeeper has absolutely no chance when the ball gets whipped in like that. It only needs a fraction of a touch and the goalkeeper's dead. He comes for it and he looks silly."
Though there was a suspicion that Lescott marginally infringed Rio Ferdinand to score, Ferguson insisted that Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic would be required to provide better support for De Gea, heading into United's challenging start to the campaign. "Our defenders didn't deal with it. For any young goalkeeper coming in now replacing Edwin van der Sar, he needs the support of experienced players like Vidic and Ferdinand."
Ferguson said he was unaware that De Gea had conceded more goals from distance than any other goalkeeper in La Liga, at Atletico Madrid last season. The manager, for whom Patrice Evra is a doubt tomorrow, said Javier Hernandez's freak concussion incident on tour in the United States would keep him out until mid-September, with United's extra precaution a result of a similar problem he experienced at Guadalajara two years ago.
United have a challenging start to their defence of the title as they go in search of a 20th league crown, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea at Old Trafford among the first six games. "I keep saying I'll send someone down to watch [the fixture selection process]," Ferguson said. "It's a tough start. The only way you can handle it is to have everyone fit more or less in the early part of the season."
The return of Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia to action will continue with the reserves on Monday.Reuse content