LONDON (AFP) – Alex Ferguson has wished referee Lee Mason “good luck” in Wednesday’s League Cup tie between Manchester United and Chelsea, just three days after their fiery Stamford Bridge clash ended in controversy.
The fall-out from United’s thrilling victory on Sunday is set to continue beyond Wednesday’s game, when the Premier League’s top two will meet for the second time in a week.
Roberto Di Matteo’s side have accused referee Mark Clattenburg of using “inappropriate language” towards their players during Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat, prompting the Football Association to launch an investigation.
The Metropolitan Police are also looking at how a steward was injured as United celebrated Javier Hernandez’s controversial 75th-minute winner.
“Good luck to the referee,” said Ferguson when asked if he had a message for Mason.
All eyes will be on the man with the whistle after Clattenburg dismissed Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres on Sunday before allowing Hernandez’s goal to stand despite the United striker appearing to be offside.
It is expected to be another hot-blooded clash, although both teams will make changes to their starting line-ups.
United winger Nani insists he is in “perfect condition” as he prepares to make a rare start this season, amid speculation surrounding his long-term future at Old Trafford.
The Portugal winger, 25, was once again an unused substitute in the win over Chelsea but should be part of a much-changed side returning to London for this fourth-round tie.
Nani cast doubt over his future last week following the club’s Champions League victory over Braga when he responded to questions about his future by saying: “God only knows what awaits me.”
He will nonetheless hope to start against Chelsea, having seen both Antonio Valencia and the fit-again Ashley Young selected ahead of him on Sunday.
“I am in perfect condition,” said Nani. “I am physically good and feeling confident. I am the same Nani as always.”
United manager Ferguson admitted he would “change some players” ahead of the return to Chelsea.
Hernandez, Ryan Giggs, Anderson, Paul Scholes and Danny Welbeck could feature, while centre-back Scott Wootton, Belgian defender Marnick Vermijl, Michael Keane and Nick Powell are also in contention.
Chelsea will also make changes, although some of Di Matteo’s adjustments will be forced as Ivanovic, Torres and John Terry are banned and Frank Lampard is recovering from a calf injury.
Di Matteo said: “I have to see how the players are and then we have to think about what kind of team I can put out on Wednesday.
“We have the suspensions and also I need to see what kind of injuries we have. But this is a team that has a lot of qualities.
“Even though we might find ourselves in situations like this, we know that we can come out of it once we get everybody back.
“We know we can play good football and create chances and take them, and that’s what we have to do.”
In Wednesday’s other League Cup fixture, Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers comes up against his former employers Swansea City for the first time as Michael Laudrup’s side visit Anfield.
– Vanguard NG