'Weakened' United still Euro-class

ALUN Armstrong considers that the much weakened Manchester United team which hit his Ipswich side for a foursome on Saturday would possibly qualify for Europe.

By Dave Allard

ALUN Armstrong considers that the much weakened Manchester United team which hit his Ipswich side for a foursome on Saturday would possibly qualify for Europe.

The Blues striker, back in action at Old Trafford after missing the Moscow Torpedo UEFA Cup first leg due to concussion, insisted: "It might have been virtually their second side, but that team would certainly be in the top ten and may even get higher and qualify for Europe."

He went on "When they brought the likes of Paul Scholes and Juan Veron on it emphasised the great strength of the club. They have an incredible squad and I think they'll win the Premiership title again and give Sir Alex Ferguson a great send-off into retirement."

Armstrong, who scored his first Town goal of the season in the Premiership home 1-1 draw with Blackburn eight days ago, feels that the efforts of last Thursday night against Torpedo must have taken a toll on many of his team-mates.

"You could see that many of the lads were running out of steam a bit towards the end," he said.

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ANDY COLE, United's England striker who hit the third goal for his team, said: "We got four goals and kept a first Premiership clean sheet this season. It was a satisfactory afternoon for us. The great strength in dept of our squad was there for all to see. Ipswich had a hard game in Europe two days before this match. It's hardly the best for them, but that's the way it goes sometimes."

The United central defender DAVID MAY was playing his first match for a long time and drew praise from manager Ferguson.

May himself said: "There have been so many frustrations, mainly due to injuries. It was great to start a game and really feel part of it again. I thought we played a sensible match, keeping possession well. Those two late goals were the icing on the cake."

SIMON MILTON, the former Town player of the year midfield man who does radio work at matches these days while at the same time working part-time for the club Academy, said: "I think it was a game that Town did not expect to get anything from until they saw the United team.

"The team-sheet should have given Town a lift with so many superstars rested and others on the substitutes bench. Unfortunately the Blues were disappointing going forward. They only had one really good chance. This was when Marcus Stewart forced Fabien Barthez into a great save with a header following a cross by Jermaine Wright."

Another radio man at Old Trafford on Saturday with a big reputation as a player was ex-Blackpool and England right-back Jimmy Armfield.

The one-time Bolton and Leeds manager said: "I loved so much of what Ipswich did last season, but it's not happening now. United kept possession so well to control the game really. Ipswich did not seem as if they could find a great deal. I expected a lot more from them especially in view of the side that United put out. I'm sure that George Burley will not panic. He's proven himself a good manager at a very high level and can quickly get them playing again."

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