Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to face sanction from the Premier League if he makes wholesale changes when Blackpool visit Old Trafford on Sunday with their top?flight survival at stake.
The United manager has a Champions League final with Barcelona to consider six days after the end to the domestic season and will rotate his resources accordingly, having secured a record 19th league championship at Blackburn Rovers.
Despite Blackpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers being fined over the past two seasons for fielding weakened teams, Ferguson will escape similar punishment provided he includes players who have made several first-team appearances this season and not a raft of debutants.
Ferguson made nine changes for the Champions League semi-final second leg against Schalke and still cruised to a 4-1 win at Old Trafford. He wants to preserve United’s unbeaten home record against Blackpool and hinted some first-team players will need to maintain match sharpness with Barcelona in mind.
Speaking after winning the title at Ewood Park on Saturday, he said: “It gives us a real opportunity to look at how we can rest players and who needs to be kept going because maybe that was a weakness in our last European Cup final [in 2009]. We played a reserve team against Hull City. We have a responsibility to make sure we are fair to all the clubs in the country who are struggling with relegation. Manchester United as always will try to win next Sunday there is absolutely no doubt about that.”
Blackpool were fined £25,000 by the Premier League in January over their manager Ian Holloway’s decision to make 10 changes from the side who drew 2-2 with Everton on 6 November in their following game at Aston Villa. The previous season Wolves received a suspended £25,000 fine after Mick McCarthy adopted a similar approach at Old Trafford.
United have written to the Football Association on behalf of Ferguson after he was charged with improper conduct for praising the referee Howard Webb prior to the title decider against Chelsea. Ferguson breached FA guidelines by discussing the match official before a game, even in flattering terms, and a disciplinary committee will consider the case in due course. United’s manager is said to have been so incensed by the charge that he refused to respond and left it to the club to acknowledge the matter. The FA has yet to decide whether to charge Carlo Ancelotti for making similar comments about Webb.
The Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has been cleared to face United at Wembley after Uefa dismissed Real Madrid’s allegation that he had directed racist abuse towards Marcelo during the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Bernabéu. Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings against the 22-year-old last week and a guilty verdict would, in all likelihood, have resulted in suspension from the final. However, Barcelona said: “Sergio Busquets will play in the Champions League final. Uefa has notified FC Barcelona they have dismissed the claims of Real Madrid.”