Reports in the morning’s papers suggest that Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough are all set to sue Manchester United if we field a weakened team against Hull at the weekend.
With the Premiership title already wrapped up and a European Cup final to play three days later, it is ridiculous to expect us to field our strongest team. Why on earth would be risk injuries and fatigue when we’ve got a final to think about?
It is not our responsibility to make sure the fair thing is done here. All teams have 38 matches to pick up the points to give them their finishing spot in the league and if you don’t do enough to secure a place in the Premiership next season, then that is your look out.
Middlesbrough beat Liverpool this season when the likes of Benayoun, Riera and Ngog were on the bench, whilst El Zhar made his only Premiership start. Should Newcastle and Sunderland sue Liverpool? Of course not.
But then there is this statement from paragraph E20 of Premier League rules: “In every league match each participating club should field a full strength team.”
I suppose the loop-hole in this is how do you define a “full strength” team. Would a line-up that started PFA Player of the Year be deemed better strength than one starting Michael Carrick? Is John O’Shea our best right-back or is that Rafael? Is Macheda classed as a strong player, considering he scored goals which earned United six points in the crucial part of the season? He did start against Middlesbrough and come off the bench to score against Sunderland!
Sir Alex Ferguson could argue that a team with the likes of Gibson, Welbeck and Macheda would be better equipped to win than a team with the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney and Anderson who all have their focus on the European Cup final. The youngsters would want to make their mark and leave an impression on the boss, whilst the first team regulars would be far more concerned about the final and not getting injured.
A Premier League spokesman said: “We are aware of this situation and we will be monitoring all matches on the final day of the season.”
Logic would tell you that United shouldn’t face any punishment here, but since when have the footballing authorities used logic when dealing with us?