FOOTBALL NEWS

21/12/2010 09:00, Report by Ben Hibbs
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United on auto pilot

United have been thrown a few curveballs so far this season, but Reds assistant boss Mike Phelan says the crucial Christmas period is when the mechanics of the team behind the team go onto auto pilot.

The intensity of quick turnarounds over the festive spell means little else for recuperation and preparation between games.

"You go onto auto pilot in some ways, we’ve been through this period so many times," Phelan explained to ManUtd.com. "We know how to get the balance right. If the squad is fully fit and everybody’s raring to go then we’ll plan over the Christmas period as we always have done.

"There will be training days, recovery days, the odd day off if we can squeeze it in. But the games come thick and fast, Christmas is not a period of time that is a fitness issue, it’s about recovery – making sure players get the rest they need to recuperate and get over any injuries.

"We have a big enough squad to cope with most eventualities. There’s a game every two or three days – not too dissimilar to what it’s like in the season, to be fair – but it can be a hectic period."

Part of dealing with the onslaught of matches is down to experience, something young players at United have to learn fast; but they have the perfect mentors in terms of old heads like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar.

Luckily, the injuries United experienced earlier in the season meant many of the Reds’ young stars now have playing time under their belts, which could be a huge advantage for the rest of the campaign.

"It can help," adds Phelan, "especially in this period. But playing through Christmas is perhaps a new experience to people like Chicharito, Bebe and

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