Ferguson preparing for UCL selection dilemma
Sir Alex Ferguson is facing up to the biggest selection headache of his managerial career as he attempts to pick a squad for Manchester United's Champions League final against Chelsea.
The United boss has no injury or suspension worries ahead of the Moscow clash a week on Wednesday and is delighted to have 26 players to choose from.
But with Ferguson able to name only seven substitutes for the match, he must tell eight of his stars they will play no part in the club's biggest game for nine years.
'I think picking the team will be easier than picking the substitutes,' he said on Sky Sports News.
'I'm going to have to leave some fantastic players out of the squad completely next week, which I won't enjoy doing.
'It's got to be done and I don't know when I'm going to pick that moment. I'm going to have to speak to them. It's not something I'm looking forward to.
'But, on the other hand, it's a fantastic position for us to be in, having 26 fit players.'
Ferguson would love to reward all those who travelled to Wigan on Sunday for the game that saw United retain the Barclays Premier League title.
'You need a really powerful squad to achieve on all fronts,' he said. 'I took 26 players to Wigan and every player was fit.
'They all came through the game, which means I'm travelling to Moscow with 26 fit players.
'That's unheard of in my time and that gives us an incredible chance.'
Ferguson's dilemma is in stark contrast to that which he faced at the climax of United's treble season of 1999.
Suspension robbed him of captain Roy Keane and central midfield partner Paul Scholes for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
As long as United avoid any training-ground mishaps or freak injuries, they will arrive in Moscow at full strength.
Ferguson is desperate to claim a trophy he has won only once in 13 attempts since arriving at Old Trafford.
He insists a club of United's standing should have been European champions on far more than two occasions, citing the records of Real Madrid (nine wins), AC Milan (seven) and Liverpool (five) as something to which his players should aspire.
'That's the kind of record we should really have. That's one thing that should drive us all on now,' he said.
'We have an opportunity next Wednesday to help us along that way.'
Ferguson believes United have a squad young enough to win multiple Champions League crowns - and he claimed they were helping keep him young as well.
'There's a freshness about the place with young players coming in. They refresh you and enthuse you,' he said.
'It's wonderful to have that youth around.'
And he began the pre-match mind games with United's Moscow opponents by saying: 'I think Chelsea know they'd rather be in our position than their own position.
'Having won the league, there was a lot of joy about the place, whereas Chelsea have to pick themselves up after drawing against Bolton.'