Yorke has chance to improve relations

Ferguson shuffles strikers as Leeds face make-or-break time against Turks
Click to follow
The Independent Online

If there was any lingering bitterness between Sir Alex Ferguson and Dwight Yorke, it seems to have been quickly resolved. Far from being cast into outer darkness following his walk-out from Old Trafford during Manchester United's frenetic draw with Chelsea on Saturday, Yorke will start tonight's Champions' League encounter with PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadion, lining up alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

If there was any lingering bitterness between Sir Alex Ferguson and Dwight Yorke, it seems to have been quickly resolved. Far from being cast into outer darkness following his walk-out from Old Trafford during Manchester United's frenetic draw with Chelsea on Saturday, Yorke will start tonight's Champions' League encounter with PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadion, lining up alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It will be only the second European game the pair have kicked off together and on the previous occasion, against Marseilles almost a year ago, neither found the net. Yorke, whose form has been patchy, partnered Andy Cole in Kiev last week and failed to impress, although much of the blame for that lay in the muddy, uneven pitch.

Ferguson would not discuss Yorke, who ran into problems with the club when he arrived late from a World Cup qualifier earlier this month, but the recall gives him the earliest possible opportunity to display his considerable gifts.

Whether he would have done so if United had not been required to travel to Highbury on Sunday, when Teddy Sheringham and Cole are likely to feature, is another matter.

So is the question of whether Ruud van Nistelrooy will swap Eindhoven for Manchester. Relations between the two clubs cooled during the summer when Ferguson invited the man for whom he bid £18.5m to continue his rehabilitation at United's training ground, a move the PSV president, Harry van Raaij, said "crossed the line of decency".

His coach, Eric Gerets, indicated that when Van Nistelrooy has completed his rehabilitation from a cruciate injury in the spring, he would like him to spend another season in the Netherlands before considering any move abroad.

"I took his mobile phone away so Manchester United can't ring him today or tomorrow," Gerets laughed. "His recovery is going well and I hope he will be playing for us next season. He will only go to a big club in Europe if he is the player he was last year. It will be difficult for this club to hold on to him but it will be better for him to stay another season here."

Although United are favourites to overcome the Dutch champions, Chelsea's second-half recovery proved they are mortal and PSV will draw comfort that in five of their last seven Champions' League fixtures away from Old Trafford, United have failed to score. Ferguson also pointed out that Eindhoven were given the weekend off to prepare while United sandwich this trip between jousts with Chelsea and Arsenal.

Nevertheless, victory would virtually seal United's qualification for the second stage with three games still to play. Having beaten Dynamo Kiev here, PSV surprisingly lost to Anderlecht in Brussels.

"You have to remember they lost to a deflected goal, late on," Ferguson said. "They were, apparently, the better side. They have a good, young team who go about their job really well.

"Kiev were superb against Eindhoven for the first 20 minutes and it looked like it would be a real slaughter but they turned it round, got the tackles in and got a goal before half-time. A win here would put us in pole position especially since Dynamo Kiev, who everybody expected to be challenging, need to beat Anderlecht twice to get in the frame again."

The loss of Van Nistelrooy and Luc Nilis, who between them scored nearly 50 times for PSV last season, has been a grievous blow to Gerets, although the emergence of the 23-year-old Arnold Bruggink, who began the season with goals in five consecutive games.

He would have loved to have played against Jaap Stam, but Stam's Achilles injury that will rule him out for the rest of the year means there will be no homecoming. That United have attempted to take the best defender and striker Eindhoven have produced in recent years gives this game a certain spice, says Bruggink, but he is labouring under no illusions. "They play such easy football," he said. "I saw them against Everton - Giggs, Beckham, Solskjaer, goal. It was so beautifully simple."

PSV Eindhoven (3-1-4-2; probable): Watterreus; Heintze, Nikiforov, Hofland; Van der Weerden; Bouma, Vogel, Van Bommel, Van der Doelen; Bruggink, Kezman.

Manchester United: (4-4-2; probable): Van der Gouw; P Neville, G Neville, Johnsen, Silvestre; Beckham, Butt, Keane, Giggs; Solskjaer, Yorke.

Referee: M Merk (Germany).

Comments