Friday, 6 March 2009

Jose lurks behind Fulham trip

Sir Alex Ferguson has always been one to strictly adhere to the tired old football maxim of taking one game at a time.

But the mouth-watering visit of Internazionale and the return of Jose Mourinho next Wednesday in the Champions League may have some bearing on his team selection for the FA Cup quarter-final clash at Fulham on Saturday.

Darron Gibson is expected to be given another chance to enhance his credentials as a vital future cog in the Old Trafford engine room, while Carling Cup man of the match Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak will again compete for Edwin van der Sar's shirt if the veteran is denied an appearance against his old club.

Cristiano Ronaldo may be taken out of the firing line at the end of a turbulent week in which he was wrongly booked for diving on Sunday against Tottenham before being almost put into Row Z by the over-zealous Steven Taylor at Newcastle on Wednesday.

Ferguson has since complained that his star winger is fair game for referees and there is a suggestion that the Portugal international will be removed from the spotlight at Craven Cottage so that his batteries are recharged for the resumption of Europe's prestigious club competition.

Ferguson has led Manchester United to a record five FA Cup wins and he will not entertain the idea that this is a fixture he would rather do without, but privately he will be yearning to bring a halt to a disappointing head-to-head record with Mourinho which has brought him just one win in 13 meetings - and his starting line-up against Roy Hodgson's men may reflect that.

The wily Scot has already promised his new best friend and, according to reports, potential future successor a bottle of vintage red wine to share at Old Trafford next week.

Ferguson will be hoping there is no sour after-taste if the holders are sent packing.

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