Manchester United 0 Glasgow Rangers 0: Valencia blow compounds Ferguson's error

Champions league group CSIR Alex Ferguson's Champions League gamble backfired badly as not even the returning Wayne Rooney could conjure up a Battle of Britain goal against Rangers.

Ferguson defended his team selection after making 10 changes to the line-up that started the 3-3 draw at Everton on Saturday. Only Darren Fletcher retained his place although Ferguson was able to recall Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.

"The criticism will be why didn't I play a stronger team," he said. "I think I played a very strong team. People forget eight of them played against Chelsea in the Charity (Community) Shield. It's a terrific squad of players we have and there was no problem playing them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They should have won that game, but give credit to Rangers, their system is very difficult to break down."

In truth, it was less of a battle, more a stout rearguard action on Rangers' behalf, which was fully deserving of a point at Old Trafford, if only for their strict adherence to Walter Smith's limited game plan. A bad night for United was made even worse by a serious injury to Antonio Valencia, who suffered a broken bone around the ankle that will doubtless rule him out for several months.

"He has gone to hospital. It looks as if it is a dislocation and a fracture," added Ferguson.

"It's a bad one, it will keep him out for a long time. He seemed to dig his toe in the turf."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Let loose again after the maelstrom that has engulfed his private life, Rooney barely got a decent sight of the Rangers goal, let alone come close to finding it.

Darron Gibson did threaten with an array of shots but a much-changed team had run out of ideas long before the six minutes of stoppage time Valencia's horrific misfortune forced.

From the first whistle, United met two lines of blue; the first of four, the one behind of five, that offered precious little room to breathe.

Rooney turned his ankle racing back into his own half trying to retrieve possession, but after hobbling back over the halfway line, he gave United fans the news they craved when he gave Ferguson the thumbs up and continued.