Ferguson talks Villas-Boas, Fletcher
Sir Alex Ferguson has said that he believes Andre Villas-Boas has a big challenge on his hands at Tottenham.
After his ill-fated spell at Chelsea last season, Villas-Boas has now been given a job at another of England's top clubs, with the same question marks hanging over him that existed at Stamford Bridge. As Villas-Boas must deal with the expectation created by Harry Redknapp's successful stint at White Hart Lane, it did not take long for the first criticisms to surface.
There were more grumbles following last week's win over QPR that catapulted Tottenham into the top half of the table, and now they head to Manchester United tomorrow looking for their first win at Old Trafford since 1989. "He has a challenge," said Ferguson.
"He wasn't at Chelsea very long, but he came to our ground early last season and his team tried to play football. That's his philosophy and I think he's carrying that out at Tottenham as well.
"He suits Spurs. They've always had a history of playing good football. I think he'll carry on that way. I hope they do well because it's a difficult industry these days, particularly for a young manager. It must be very daunting and challenging to go to a big club. It's full of risk because it's a results industry."
Going to Old Trafford has been a daunting experience for Tottenham ever since Gary Lineker scored the only goal 23 years ago. In the intervening period, the best they have managed are four draws. "Our record against Spurs is very good," said Ferguson.
"Sometimes you have these situations where you get a team that you always get good results against. It was the same when I was at Aberdeen. It didn't matter what team I played against Dundee at Dens Park, I would win. At one point I played them before a midweek European game and I played seven reserves and won 5-1."
After recovering from the opening weekend defeat at Everton by reeling off four successive wins, United will hope their record against Tottenham holds this weekend as they look to put more pressure on early-season pace-setters Chelsea. Not that everything is running entirely smoothly for Ferguson.
The loss of Nemanja Vidic for two months following knee surgery early this week means United have only Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as fit senior centre-halves. Scott Wootton did impress on his debut against Newcastle on Wednesday though. And it appears the Birkenhead-born 21-year-old has an important role to play over the next few days.
"Scott reads the game and passes the ball well," said Ferguson. "He was up against very experienced players on Wednesday, so his performance was a little bonus for us."
Wootton will be in Ferguson's squad tomorrow, and will remain there until Chris Smalling has recovered from a broken metatarsal, which United hope will be after the next international break. As he does have options, the potential loss of Antonio Valencia to an ankle injury is not too much of a worry for Ferguson.
And the United boss can definitely allow Darren Fletcher to ease his way back as he continues his rehabilitation from a chronic bowel complaint. The Scotland skipper started his first game in 10 months in midweek. Ferguson has selected Fletcher in tomorrow's squad. However, Fletcher's next meaningful involvement is likely to come in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj in Romania.
"Having played on Wednesday night and contributed so well I wouldn't think he'll start tomorrow," said Ferguson. "But he may get a place on the bench and he could possibly go to Romania and play against Cluj. That may be an ideal opportunity for him."
And when he is able to call on his fellow countryman on a regular basis, Ferguson knows he will have a very useful addition to his squad. "The great thing about Fletcher the other night was that his enthusiasm was fantastic," said Ferguson.
"He played a great part in the victory and in a role different from how we've used him in the past. Darren was always the type to get about the midfield players but on Wednesday he sat in front of the two young centre-backs and did a really good job."