Sir Alex Ferguson will not field a team of youngsters against Blackpool this weekend, ensuring the Manchester United boss avoids risking the wrath of the FA and opposition managers. The relegation-threatened Tangerines travel to Old Trafford on the final day of the season in the relegation zone, though they do not necessarily need a positive result to stay up.
Blackpool could still stay up if they lose at United, but both Wigan and Birmingham would also have to suffer defeats – the latter by more goals than Ian Holloway’s side. Holloway had been hopeful of securing a result against the newly-crowned champions, as it had been expected that Ferguson would rest a host of first-team regulars as he did on the final day of the 2006-07 season – when West Ham survived by winning at Old Trafford – and at the end of 2008-09, when United’s second-string beat Hull 1-0.
But in a move that will delight the Tangerines’ relegation rivals Wigan, Birmingham, Wolves and Blackburn, Ferguson has revealed that Edwin van der Sar and a number of other first-team regulars will be among those who feature on Sunday. “I have players who need a game,” said Ferguson. “Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes, Anderson, Dimitar Berbatov, Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar will play.” The game will be Van der Sar’s final appearance at Old Trafford before he retires and could be the same for Scholes, who is also tipped to quit in the summer. Berbatov is included in a bid to help him move ahead of Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez in the race for the Golden Boot. Despite suggestions that Scholes could be set to call time on his career, Ferguson remains hopeful of the midfielder agreeing a one-year extension. “I don’t think this will be his last game,” he said.
“We have discussed it and I have encouraged him to stay on for another year. “We’ll talk at the end of the season.” Ferguson added that a number of his first team stars will join the likes of Nicky Butt and David Beckham in making an appearance in Gary Neville’s testimonial, which takes place against Juventus on Tuesday. “We have to think about that game because Gary has been a fantastic servant to this club,” said Ferguson. “I hope he gets the crowd he deserves.” © ESPN EMEA Ltd