Fergie confident in striking soccer options
HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says he has "strong options" up front going into the new Premier League season after all his strikers caught the eye on their tour of Asia. New signing Michael Owen continued a fine start to his United career in the final match of the pre-season tour, netting a brace in Sunday's clash against China's Hangzhou Greentown to add to two goals in Malaysia. Speaking after the 8-2 rout of Hangzhou, Ferguson said his intention on the tour had been to rotate his front men -- Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and teenager Federico Macheda -- as he weighs up his options following the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Ferguson, chasing a record fourth consecutive Premier League crown, paired Owen and Berbatov from the start for the first time in China and both found the net in the opening period. "We didn't use Macheda tonight but I think it gives us strong options," he said. "I think that Macheda's development obviously as we saw the other night is good for a 17-year-old boy and he's got the physical attributes to go with it." With the experience of Berbatov and Owen, and the talent of Rooney, "I think we're not too bad," Ferguson said. While admitting the clash against Hangzhou was not the toughest test for his team, the Scot was delighted with the quality of play from his side and said they were coming to the boil as the new season loomed. "Some of our forward play and penetration was absolutely first-class so for that reason I've got to be delighted," Ferguson said after seeing veteran Ryan Giggs score a second-half hat-trick. The United boss spoke highly of Owen, 29, signed on a free transfer earlier this month, and the experience he brings to the side. "I think his contribution and overall play of a game is definitely suited to us. (He's) very cool in the last third of the field. He knows when to run and when to hold his runs," he said. And Ferguson again justified his decision to hand the former Newcastle and England man the iconic number seven shirt, worn by star players such as George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Ronaldo. "The criteria for giving the number seven jersey are quite clear. It's a jersey that has been worn by some high-profile players and I think we have that in Michael Owen," he said. United, who won all four of their fixtures on their Asian tour -- including two in Malaysia and one in South Korea -- continue their pre-season preparations at the Audi Cup in Germany where they will face Boca Juniors on July 29. Ferguson confirmed to MUTV that the squad will be joined in Germany by three reinforcements -- young Irish defender Craig Cathcart, Serbian centre-back Nemanja Vidic and summer signing Antonio Valencia.
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