Van Nistelrooy left on bench for final

Ruud van Nistelrooy was sensationally dumped to the bench by Alex Ferguson as Manchester United looked to stave off a second successive barren season by beating Wigan in the Carling Cup Final.

Van Nistelrooy may have scored 22 times this season but it was not enough to save him from the Millennium Stadium axe as Ferguson opted to pair Wayne Rooney with Louis Saha up front.

The United boss also recalled John O’Shea to central midfield, where he was accompanied by Ryan Giggs, with Park Ji-sung and Cristiano Ronaldo occupying the flank positions.

There was no place in Ferguson’s starting line-up for either of his January recruits, although Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra at least made the bench.

Unlike his opposite number, Wigan boss Paul Jewell sprang no surprises in his starting line-up, handing an instant return to 13-goal striker Jason Roberts, whose last-gasp goal against Arsenal earned Wigan an unexpected shot at their first major trophy – and a place in next season’s UEFA Cup.

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