Bebe set for Man United debut in League Cup

Bebe will make his highly anticipated Manchester United debut in

the League Cup on Wednesday, more than a month after manager Alex

Ferguson signed the unproven Portuguese striker without seeing him

play.

Ferguson has been forced to fend off critics who have questioned

the wisdom of paying 7.4 million pounds ($11.5 million) for a

player who has never featured at a higher level than the Portuguese

third division.

The 68-year-old manager didn’t even both watching videos of Bebe

in action before the transfer from Vitoria Guimaraes was completed

last month, relying instead on the recommendations of former

assistant manager Carlos Queiroz and United’s scout.

Some English papers have already branded Bebe an expensive flop

based on his appearances for United’s reserve team.

But Ferguson is ready to include Bebe in the first team for the

first time as United begins its League Cup defense at second-tier

side Scunthorpe in the third round.

”A lot of my young players will play. Bebe is training very

well,” Ferguson said Tuesday. ”He’ll be involved tomorrow

night.”

And Lisbon-born Bebe has appealed for patience.

”I am going to be a brilliant player for Manchester United,”

he said. ”After a couple more games I will be better. I have to be

fitter because it’s a different type of football in England.”

Bebe left Estrela Amadora three months ago after the team gained

promotion to Portugal’s second division, but only featured in six

friendlies for Vitoria Guimaraes before being lured to United.

”I can play on both sides, on the left and the right,” Bebe

said. ”It doesn’t make any difference which side.”

The Premier League’s leading teams use England’s second-tier

knockout competition to give young players vital first-team

experience.

”It allows me to keep everybody happy in terms of giving people

games and we’ve reached the last two finals, which has its obvious

advantages,” Ferguson said. ”Playing at Wembley and competing for

medals on the big stage is terrific for players’ development.”

United beat Aston Villa 2-1 in last season’s final to win the

tournament for the fourth time and the Birmingham club’s

third-round match against Blackburn on Wednesday will see Gerard

Houllier take charge for the first time.

”We will not be putting out a lesser side,” Houllier said.

”The League Cup was the first trophy I won at Liverpool and, if

you win five games, you are at Wembley.”

Houllier was named Villa manager on Sept. 8 but has had to wait

to officially take over because of contractual issues with the

French Football Federation.

Houllier intends to alter Villa’s playing style and training

methods.

”In the short term I need to know the players more and they

need to get used to the different types of training – more

continental in terms of tactics – and a variety of drills,”

Houllier said. ”It will take time to implement and be accepted.

You come with philosophies and beliefs and need to convince the

players to do them.

”Will we be playing in a different way? Obviously it won’t be

done overnight. You can’t change habits in the middle of a

competition. It has got to be gradual. The first mission is to get

results, the second is to be entertaining.”

Sol Campbell, the 36-year-old former England defender, is set to

make his Newcastle debut at Premier League champion Chelsea.

In another all-Premier League match, out-of-favor Manchester

City goalkeeper Shay Given is due to make his first appearance of

the season at West Bromwich Albion.

Liverpool could hand Australia keeper Brad Jones his first

appearance since joining from Middlesbrough last month in the home

match against Northampton.

”Goalkeepers have got to be a very special breed. You need a

character who is good enough for the Premier League but who also

understands that there’s another goalkeeper at the club who’s

probably better than him (Pepe Reina),” Liverpool manager Roy

Hodgson said.

In Wednesday’s other fixture, Wigan hosts Lancashire rival

Preston.