Premier League

Ferguson upset by Gill departure

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Thu, 21 Feb 2013 11:46:00

Scotland international Stephen McManus has told Middlesbrough they have nothing to fear as they attempt to drag themselves back into the npower Championship promotion race.

The Teessiders are in danger of slipping out of the top six after taking just four of the last 24 points on offer, and 30-year-old McManus, who returned to the side for the first time since October in Tuesday night's 0-0 draw at Burnley, is confident they have what it will take to turn their form around.

He told the club's official website: "Every game between now and the end of the season is a massive game.

"But look at the quality we have got all over the pitch - we have nothing to fear.

"I have always had a tremendous rapport with the fans, the staff and players here. I have loved my time here and hopefully I can play my part between now and the end of the season. If I can help in that in any way, that is what I want to do.

"You don't feel like a footballer when you are not playing. You want to be playing week in, week out to be an important squad member, and I'm certainly no different."

The Manchester United player faces a battle against the odds to be fit for the Champions League encounter with Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5 after injuring his ankle against Reading on Monday.

Former United captain Bryan Robson is the latest to question why Jones tried to block Jobi McAnuff with the outside of his foot, which left him in obvious pain.

It is not the first time Jones' technique has been questioned during a difficult 12 months when the youngster has suffered a succession of problems.

However, as Ferguson sees elements of Robson's own play in Jones' game, the United manager sees little point trying to change the approach.

"He tackled awkwardly," said Ferguson.

"But you can't measure a person by a tackle.

"He has the courage and willingness to tackle. Bryan Robson was exactly the same.

"Bryan couldn't see danger and neither can Phil.

"That is a lot to do with the courage they have. You are not going to take that out of them. I wouldn't even attempt that."

Nevertheless, Jones is now a major doubt for that return meeting with Madrid, having done so much to subdue Cristiano Ronaldo in particular during last week's first leg.

"He did an incredible job against Real Madrid," said Ferguson.

"The great thing Phil has got is that he doesn't care who he is playing against.

"There is no fear about playing against anyone.

"We will have to wait and see. It is two weeks away and a lot can happen in that time.

"He has an outside chance, but no more than that."

Jones will certainly miss Saturday's trip to QPR but Ferguson reported everyone else has come through Monday's encounter without a problem.

The Scot repeated his mantra that, with United 12 points clear of Manchester City with 12 games remaining, destiny is very much in their own hands.

"The only way we can approach it is by taking care of each game and eventually we run out of matches," said Ferguson.

"I can understand from Manchester City's point of view why they are talking about us dropping points.

"But the fact of the matter is they will drop them as well."

Shea, signed last month from FC Dallas, was eligible to make his Potters debut in the 2-1 win over Reading on February 9 and, after opting not to include the United States winger, who has been recovering from a foot operation, in his 18-man party on that occasion, Pulis has indicated he is now ready to get him involved on a matchday.

Republic of Ireland full-back Wilson has also been working his way back to fitness, having not made a senior appearance since breaking his leg in Stoke's 0-0 draw with Sunderland last October.

The pair were in action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Scunthorpe on Monday.

Pulis said: "The two of them will be in the squad - whether or not I start with them, we will have to wait and see.

"I think Brek has been out for three or four months with an injury, so this is almost like a pre-season for him, but he is a fit lad I have to say.

"The work we have done with him has shown that he is very mobile and athletic, and very willing as well. So he is not far away.

"I think Willo is close. Willo is on the launchpad, ready to go - he is just waiting for the opportunity, and he will go."

Forward Cameron Jerome is expected to be fit for selection, despite picking up a knock to his knee in the Scunthorpe match.

But striker Michael Owen, who had come through the contest apparently unscathed, subsequently felt a problem with his thigh in training which makes him doubtful for the Craven Cottage clash.

Pulis said: "Michael actually trained really well on Tuesday after the game on Monday, but he felt his thigh and I'm not sure he is going to be fit for Saturday - we will wait and see."

Clarke confirmed Odemwingie is part of his plans to face Sunderland, returning to favour after his Twitter rants against the club and the bitter on-off transfer saga with QPR last month.

Head coach Clarke knows some supporters will be in no mood to forgive Odemwingie but he has asked them to put any negativity towards the Nigeria international to one side.

Clarke said: "I understand some of the supporters might not want to forgive Peter quickly but, when they go to the stadium, all I ask is they support the team.

"If Peter scores a hat-trick and they choose not to celebrate Peter's goals, they should celebrate the fact that the team have scored.

"All we can ask is that the supporters support the team and don't allow their feelings over one player to over-ride the fact that the support has been great this year, home and away."

Clarke admitted Albion's shortage of options means Odemwingie will play again this season.

He said: "We've had a couple of little chats but nothing in-depth and he knows the situation.

"He knows he needs to work hard and he has to be ready for his opportunity when it comes and, for sure, it will come, because we only carry a small squad.

"Will he be considered for Saturday? Absolutely. I've got 20 players available and he'll be involved with the 20 players."

United confirmed in a statement released on their official website on Wednesday morning that Gill is to leave his post on June 30, with his duties being taken on by executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.

Gill, who joined the Red Devils as their finance director in February 1997 and assumed the role of chief executive in September 2003, is to remain as a director at Old Trafford.

His tenure as chief executive - during which the Glazer family completed their controversial takeover of the club - has seen United win four Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups and the 2008 Champions League.

Ferguson said: "I have been at United for over 26 years and for 23 of those years my boss has been one of only two men: Martin Edwards, who brought me to the club, and David Gill. I have enjoyed working with both.

"David has been a magnificent chief executive.

"Of course, we have had a million arguments, but I have always enjoyed them because I know that David has two great qualities: he is straight and he always puts Manchester United first.

"No disagreement is ever personal with him. He always wants the best for United, whether it's the players, the training ground or the staff.

"Him stepping down is a big loss to me but the fact that he is staying on the board encourages me that the reason for his departure is heartfelt, (and) that he believes it is time for the club to move on.

"If I could have found a way of persuading him to stay I would love to have done that. But he has made his decision and I respect him for it."

Speaking about that decision, Gill stressed his belief that "all businesses need to refresh themselves with new management and ideas".

The 55-year-old - who was appointed as the vice chairman of the Football Association last October and is their nominee for the UEFA Executive Committee elections in May - said: "It has been a very hard decision because I love this club and, as the fans' banner says, it is 'more than a religion'.

"However, I have always been conscious of the fact that, as a member of staff, I was always just a temporary custodian of this marvellous institution.

"I am also of the view that all businesses need to refresh themselves with new management and ideas and after 10 years in charge I believe it is appropriate for someone new to pick up the baton.

"I am looking forward to continuing my involvement on the club board. And I hope to be able to make a contribution to the game on a wider national and European level."

Though Gill will remain in the shadows, his decision creates an element of uncertainty at Old Trafford.

Woodward, who has overseen the massive progress made by the Red Devils' commercial department, will take over many of Gill's responsibilities.

It is, however, envisaged Woodward will remain based at the club's London offices, with current commercial director Richard Arnold becoming the most senior figure at Old Trafford.

The situation has been likened to that encountered at Arsenal following the exit of David Dein, whose departure was viewed by many as the start of that club's decline.

Yet Ferguson does not view the situation in the same way.

"There is a good stability here. That must help," he said.

"The foundations David has laid down from his side of it are easy to carry on from.

"There is a template there for us to follow.

"The job is to support the manager and the staff to maintain the success they have. I don't think that should change that much."

Woodward has been attending Premier League meetings on United's behalf in an attempt to get his head round the intricate world of football politics.

And Ferguson believes the manner of the 40-year-old's promotion is another sign that the Glazer family remain wedded to the in-house philosophy that has proved so successful down the years.

"United are great at promoting from within and we have done it again with Ed Woodward stepping up," Ferguson said.

"Remember, David came as the finance director and ended up as chief executive.

"From the football side, Mike Phelan came as reserve coach and ended up as my assistant. Rene Meulensteen came as a development coach and is now my first-team coach. Brian McClair came as a youth coach and is now director of the academy.

"We see quality and potential in a lot of our staff. That happens throughout the club. There shouldn't be a big problem."

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