Fergie: AVB could have departed

Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn't have been surprised if Andre Villas-Boas had turned his back on England after his Chelsea exit.

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Andre Villas-Boas: Sacked by Chelsea las

Andre Villas-Boas: Sacked by Chelsea las

Sir Alex Ferguson would not have been surprised if Andre Villas-Boas had turned his back on the "mad" English game following his ill-fated spell at Chelsea.

Villas-Boas lasted just eight months at Stamford Bridge before he was booted out by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.

It was a chastening experience for the 35-year-old, who had made such a positive impression in his native Portugal and whom Abramovich clearly felt had the potential to emulate fellow countryman Jose Mourinho.

Yet it was symptomatic of a league in which increasingly bizarre decisions are made, including today's axing of Nigel Adkins by Southampton, which Ferguson has labelled "unfair".

But Villas-Boas stuck it out, accepting the offer of chairman Daniel Levy to coach Tottenham following their own pretty clinical dismissal of Harry Redknapp.

Spurs have gained a reward though, with the London outfit presently fourth in the Premier League - ahead of Arsenal - prior to Manchester United's visit on Sunday.

"He had that short spell at Chelsea and could have said I will stay in Portugal because it is a bit mad in England," said Ferguson.

"But he has taken the challenge.

"In fairness he has gone to a good club with a good history.

"That has been the persuader really and he has coped well.

"He has got them playing the way he wants them, which is what every coach wants.

"He has got his philosophy and ideas across and that has got them to a really good position.

"They will be challenging for the top four. I don't think there is any doubt about that."

And in Gareth Bale they have one of the Premier League's star men, even though Ferguson recoils with comparisons of his own brilliant Welshman.

"It is all opinions I suppose," said the United boss.

"The boy is a good player. But Ryan Giggs at 23? I don't think there was anyone better."

Ferguson dismissed questions of a potential new contract for Giggs, just as he rejected the opportunity to state who was United's penalty-taker in the wake of Wayne Rooney's latest miss.

"I have not made a decision about that," he said.

"We don't want to be missing penalties. It is a regular opportunity. But it is not something I want to discuss."

However, the United manager was willing to discuss Rooney's recovery from the minor knee injury he suffered in training on Christmas Day, and how long it will take the England man to regain full fitness.

"As we know with Wayne, he needs a few games," said Ferguson.

"It doesn't matter how many times he is off, he still needs time.

"He is a player who needs to play all the time and we have known that for quite a while.

"He did fine on Wednesday. He wasn't lacking in anything really."

With Tottenham riding high, United face a stiff test of their own credentials, having dropped only four points since they were beaten by Villas-Boas' men at Old Trafford in September.

Jonny Evans and Ashley young are both ruled out by hamstring and knee complaints, other than that, Ferguson is picking from strength.

As ever, trying to second guess the Scot is virtually impossible.

However, it can be taken with certainty that former Tottenham man Michael Carrick will be in his team given the manner he has performed in the 'Paul Scholes' role this year.

"Carrick has been absolutely magnificent," said Ferguson.

"It is his best ever season at the club.

"He is completely in command of that position now. He has been absolutely brilliant.

"Even when he came on on Wednesday night he just settled us. He got a grip of the game immediately like good players do and eased us through the last 20 minutes."


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