herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Ferguson: Nani can put Pool to sword

United boss salutes revived wing wizard and backs him to bury bitter rivals at Old Trafford

Alex Ferguson has hailed Nani's dramatic improvement in Manchester United's rise to the Premier League summit.

The Portugal winger arrived at Old Trafford in 2007 for £17m amid great expectation, only to fail miserably in his attempt to win a regular spot in Alex Ferguson's Manchester United line-up.

It would have been no surprise if the winger had been off-loaded during the January transfer window, but instead Nani has hit a rich vein of form, cementing his place in the United line-up ahead of tomorrow's encounter with fierce north-west rivals Liverpool.

"I have always said Nani is a talented boy," said Ferguson.

"He has great feet, great pace and great endurance. He is a terrific trainer and a tough little lad. He has all the parts you need, and what we hoped was that maturity would bring them all together.

"We have definitely seen great improvement in his form over the past few weeks. He is starting to mature and that is the reason why I am playing him."

Ferguson will hope Nani's pace and balance unsettle a Liverpool side who have beaten United on their last three meetings, each of which have featured Nemanja Vidic being sent off.

Victory would keep the Red Devils at the Premier League summit for another few days at least, although the fact his side have to face Steven Gerrard has vexed Ferguson.



INCIDENTS

Twice in the past couple of weeks Gerrard has escaped any action for incidents that seemed certain to be looked at by the FA's disciplinary committee, bringing a stinging response from the United boss.

"We know that," responded Ferguson when it was pointed out Gerrard was not the first Liverpool player to benefit from non-action by the FA as Javier Mascherano also escaped censure for a similar incident in a Carling Cup tie against Leeds earlier this season.

"They do all right with that. They are lucky with that.

"It happens. Maybe in some years we will get lucky too. Who knows?"

A long-time critic of the FA's handling of disciplinary matters, Ferguson claims to no longer care about their handling of individual issues.

Clearly though, the Scot is perturbed.

"I didn't expect them to be charging Steven Gerrard simply because I think it is a dysfunctional unit, the FA," he said.

"I don't think they know what they are doing.

"There is no consistency for a start. I didn't expect to get any.

"I am not too bothered about it. They can do what they want down there. It is crazy at times."

United have Ryan Giggs available this weekend after the veteran Welshman recovered from the broken hand he suffered at Aston Villa last month.

Manchester United v Liverpool

live tomorrow sky sports 1 (ko 1.30)

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