Fergie answers the Palace call as Sheffield United get ready for clash

Dougie Freedman
Dougie Freedman
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MICKY Adams will do battle with the latest member of Scotland’s managerial mafia when Sheffield United face Crystal Palace tomorrow.

Dougie Freedman, his counterpart at Selhurst Park, has been picking the brains of fellow emigres since being appointed as George Burley’s successor seven weeks ago.

“I’ve spoken to quite a few people lately,” Freedman said. “In the Premier League especially there are a lot of Scots who I can pick-up the phone and have a chat about things with.

“You can go straight in at the top and speak to Sir Alex Ferguson but there are others, such as Kenny Dalglish, who are also willing and able to give me a hand.

“Hopefully it will help us get ourselves out of trouble.”

The pressure on Adams, Freedman and their respective players is likely to be almost intolerable given the significance of this fixture. United travel to London tonight 22nd in the Championship table while Palace are one place and two points higher in 21st.

Although neither side’s fate will be sealed in South Norwood, the psychological implications of defeat could be immense.

Palace, who have won two, drawn three and lost four of their first nine outings under Freedman’s stewardship, have proven themselves to be remarkably resilient on home soil having beaten fellow strugglers Middlesbrough and Preston North End there in recent weeks.

Freedman, a former colleague of United’s academy coach John Pemberton, enjoys the support of some high-profile cheerleaders.

But Adams, having appointed Dave Bassett as a football consultant, also has a wealth of knowledge at his disposal and, with 15 years worth of experience at the sharp end of English football under his belt, the acumen required to ensure United tackle the game, not the occasion.

“We’ve got two important matches coming up,” he said following Tuesday’s draw with Reading.

“But they are no more important than any of the others we are going to be playing.

“They are all of equal value, all of equal importance, and we have to remember that. Whatever happens (at Palace) is not going to decide our fate either way.”

Freedman has attempted to dampen the sense of anticipation by stressing Palace’s away form could hold they key to survival following last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Coventry City.

Both Alex Marrow and influential midfielder Neil Danns missed the visit to the Ricoh Arena through injury but the Glasgow-born rookie is refusing to act hastily in the loan market.

“We have targets and if they become available then we’ll try to do something,” he said. “But when this club makes quick decision it just never seems to work.”

Scunthorpe’s surprise victory over Nottingham Forest has complicated matters at the bottom of the table still further.

Chris Dagnall’s strike saw Ian Baraclough’s side secure their first league win at home since August and edge to within two points of United with two games in hand.

They face Derby County, who yesterday signed Jamie Ward on loan, at Glanford Park tomorrow before hosting Adams’s side on Tuesday.

Middlesbrough, in 20th, travel to Millwall while Bristol City, who are six points above United in 19th, face resurgent Leicester City tonight. Preston North End, who continue to prop up the table, entertain Queens Park Rangers.

“We got a lucky point against Reading who were the better team,” Adams admitted.

“Whether or not that will turn out to be a valuable point I don’t know.

“But we’re two unbeaten and can now try to build on that.”