Norwich V Man Utd at Carrow Road : Match Preview

25 February 2012 03:01
Ferguson tips Canaries for safety Manchester United head to Norwich for the first time in seven years on Sunday with Sir Alex Ferguson certain he will be planning another trip next term. 

Paul Lambert's men have confounded pre-season odds that had them tipped to make a quick return to the npower Championship. Having only spent one season in the second tier after scrambling out of League One, just being back amongst the elite represented a fine achievement for the Canaries. But now, with 35 points to their name and 14 matches still remaining, Ferguson is confident Norwich are already safe. "It is difficult to say who is going to go down," he said. "When you look at the bottom of the league, there are five teams from 19 to 21 points. There is not a great deal of leeway there. But 21 to 35 is a big gap and I think Norwich are okay. "They look as if they are enjoying themselves and it is always a good atmosphere at Carrow Road. They get a full house every game." Although everyone knows Oxford were the opponents for Ferguson's first game as United manager, in 1986, Norwich was the place where he secured his first point, thanks to a goalless draw seven days later.

However, whilst United were beginning an admittedly long climb back to the summit of English football, Norwich's fortunes eventually declined, only for one of Ferguson's fellow Scots to turn the entire situation around. "I knew Paul Lambert as a kid at St Mirren," said the United chief. "He played under my brother Martin when he was a coach there. "He had a great career, winning a European Cup winners medal with Dortmund, then going to Celtic." Lambert cut his managerial teeth at Livingston, before moving on to Wycombe, then Colchester and now Norfolk's finest. "Norwich is a good club to go to for a young manager," said Ferguson. "The expectation is not too high. But there is a lot of enthusiasm and he is doing well." Rio Ferdinand will return to the United squad. Ferdinand was rested for the Europa League defeat to Ajax on Thursday night but Ferguson will look to the 33-year-old to bring some stability to a back four that struggled badly at Old Trafford. Leading scorer Wayne Rooney (throat) is a doubt, whilst there is also speculation that midfielder Tom Cleverley has suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury. 

Norwich midfielder David Fox is relishing the prospect of trying to overturn his idols when former club United visit Carrow Road. The 28-year-old spent five-and-a-half years with the Old Trafford club after leaving school, before moving on to Blackpool. Fox ended up at Norwich after a spell with Colchester and is looking forward to pitting his wits against his former club, who he lauded as the "best place to get educated" in terms of football and life. "I think Manchester United at home is one that everyone is looking for when the fixtures come out," Fox said. "Personally, that was one I was looking for and now it is here I am sure everybody is looking forward to it. "About 10 years ago I was in the youth team there and looking up to players like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, just as people like [Danny] Welbeck and [Tom] Cleveley are looking up to them now. "It is unbelievable that they are still there and going strong. "There was Giggs, Scholes, Gary Neville and Roy Keane - they are the best people to learn from. "You see how they perform, how they approach training everyday and it really is an eye-opening experience when you are a young 16 or 17-year-old to be learning from those type of players." Fox was quick to praise former manager Ferguson, who let him join Blackpool on a free transfer in January 2006. "I had six months left on my contract so I went in and spoke to him and said 'I think it is time I left'," the midfielder said. "He agreed, he looked after me and was brilliant. "A few weeks later I got a letter through the post from him thanking me for my attitude at the club and wishing me all the best for my career. "It is a letter I have still got and I am very proud that he took the time out to thank me for my efforts and wish me luck." Zak Whitbread could return to the Norwich side. The 28-year-old has recovered from a hamstring injury but his fellow defender Daniel Ayala continues to miss out. Marc Tierney (groin) and Jonny Howson (knee) are both on the comeback trail, although Canaries boss Lambert believes this game might be beyond them.

Norwich V Man Utd - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.

Source: PA