Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has explained the apparently bizarre selection process for his team’s 2-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup yesterday.
Ferguson lined up with 7 defenders playing in a 4-4-2 formation, with John O’Shea joining Darron Gibson in the centre of midfield and the Brazilian twins, Fabio and Rafael playing down either flank.
It so happened to be an inspired decision, as both twins performed admirably, and played with a telepathic understanding in the first half.
Rafael capped his performance with a goal and Ferguson was left with a much easier explanation following the victory.
Ferguson said: “I couldn’t risk Scholes and Giggs because of Tuesday’s game.
“That is such an important game for the club and if you look at the injuries in midfield I had to come up with a plan or an idea to utilise our energy.”
Antonio Valencia returned from six months of injury hell at half time in place of Fabio, and played excellently on his return.
“I am very pleased with that,” he said. “It was a fantastic performance.
“The boy is an absolutely brilliant player and he calmed us down in possession of the ball.
“He took the ball all the time and has got great balance, an awareness and great speed.”
The game itself was very end to end and could have ended 5 each. Manchester United had an inspired Edwin Van der Saar to thank for keeping out Arsenal.
“He is a fantastic goalkeeper,” Ferguson said. “We just wish he was 21 rather than coming up to 41 but nature catches you eventually in life.”