We still have a day to go before the Champions’ League tie against Roma. News is filtering through that Totti may be doubtful for the clash, which is good to hear. However, we do have some injury concerns of our own, although there is a good chance that most of the injury-afflicted players would be back for Tuesday. We should be able to have some idea as the day wears on. But more on Roma tomorrow, when we preview the game.
Meanwhile, we will talk a little about some other United stories.
As much as it’s tempting to say that it is United’s title to lose, a nagging feeling of attempting to tempt fate, in the process, stops one just short. Arsenal’s come from behind against Bolton keeps them within touching distance and Chelsea today could cut our lead to five. But nothing, or no one, could argue against us being thoroughly deserving of retaining the title at this stage.
Aston Villa are having a torrid time playing us, it would seem, from recent history, and yesterday was no different. Another four-goal rout this season against Villa is sure to set Martin O’Neill counting the number of people he may have wronged in life.
After the disappointment at the international stage (some might call it a Newcastle-like tendency to expect too much) we return to Premier League action as United take on Villa at Old Trafford and with Arsenal and Chelsea facing relatively easier opponents (Bolton (away) and Boro (home)), the pressure is on the champions to win this game ahead of their CL quarterfinal away leg against Roma.
Aston Villa have taken something of a stumble, losing two games on the trot. On the other hand, Manchester United have been in title-winning form over the last few games, winning the last 5 and not conceding for 300 minutes. I could quote you more stats (we’ve never lost at home to Villa in the Prem) but the long and short of it is – United are on form and at home, Villa are out of form and away from home, and from only that I would point to a 2-1 or 3-1 win tomorrow evening.
But if only it were that easy!
Since Peter Schmeichel left Manchester United after that game, it always seemed that we had a weakness to find good goalkeepers and bring them to the club. Sir Alex tried everything: Mark Bosnich, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Fabien Barthez. Nothing seemed to work. It looked like Schmeichel left a ghost behind to haunt everybody who tried to replace him successfully.
But then, after becoming utterly frustrated and bored of experimenting with goalkeepers, he went for the sure choice: Edwin van der Saar. The Dutchman nearly joined United in 1999 before he opted to move to Juventus, but he then moved on to Premier League side Fulham and Manchester United had no problem snatching him from the Premier League strugglers. Suddenly, Schmeichel’s ghost vanished.
The distraction that was the international break is over and, hopefully, there aren’t any injury worries. I must apologise for not giving you your daily fix of United news yesterday, thanks to my laptop’s AC adapter conking out. This post is from a borrowed computer, so I can’t be long. Hence today will be more of a link post. The good part though, will be that I will try to update this post through the day, as and when I gain access to a system for even few minutes.
My brand new AC adapter should be in tomorrow to give a new lease of life to my currently comatose laptop. So regular service should resume by then. So here we go with interesting links for the day:
- Old news, but Anderson is, indeed, loving life at United — in case people were wondering. I couldn’t find links to his performance (for Brazil) yesterday. Anyone who could post something would be greatly commended for their efforts.Update: Some words of praise from Dunga, for Anderson and Pato.
- Rooney remained isolated up top, while Fabio Capello was happy despite defeat to France. Is it a realization that little could be done with a side shorn of anything resembling creativity? Actually, anything other than lumping hopeful balls to players who aren’t known for their heading ability.
- ‘Wounded’ Terry wants armband back — and they say it’s a team game. Update: And as an aside, here’s a good rant on Terry.
- Skipper Neville, in typical Neville style, gives his forthright thoughts on his chances of making it back to the side this season — here’s a hint, it’s not very good.
- Michael Barnes out on month’s loan. [via Ahmed]
- Mikel’s documents found to be forged. How does it concern us, you ask? Well, it could force us to pay back some of the £ 12 million back to Chelsea
That’s it for now, I think. Hopefully when I find the time, and a computer, I will add to these links.
Keep checking back and, of course, ranting.
Yes, I know, Manchester United > England and all that. But it’s still United, dammit, and Rio deserves it as much as anyone else in the England squad. Plus I love a good captaincy debate (Terry v Ferdinand, if you’re wondering).
“Fabio Capello has confirmed that Rio Ferdinand will captain England against France in Paris. Capello has confirmed this continues his policy of rotating the captaincy between players in the friendly matches before confirming a permanent captain for the World Cup qualifying games.â€
So Ferdinand will be captaining a side that includes Terry, Gerrard, as well as possibly Beckham and Owen. All four have led England at one time or the other ahead of Ferdinand, and it is a matter of pride to see the captaincy return to Manchester United, even if it is only for one game (no other United player in the squad – not even Rooney – would be in with a shot at captaincy come summer time).
The weekend euphoria must have well and truly subsided to some extent. Mondays can do that even to the merriest of the lot. We also discussed pretty much everything that needed to be discussed. Some people decided to murder Rooney for his poor goal returns, others decided to murder those who decided to murder Rooney. Some were worried that Ronaldo was scoring more goals than providing assists, others dismissed that as mere selfishness. Some discussed about Ben Foster, others were preoccupied with solving the conundrum of how best to fill the two holes in central midfield that could pulverize one and all. Some wanted the team to demolish all opposition, others were happy just winning.
A casual observer was meanwhile found scratching his head — a glance at the league table showed him that Manchester United were on top and five points ahead. Little did he understand the true nature of fandom. There can be no end to bitching, regardless of your team’s position — and Red Rants certainly does have a nice place to do said bitching. Enough of the self-aggrandizement, though, on to some news of note.
A lot of pages were spent over the past week discussing tactics, formations, players, attitudes, form, referees. All that came to yesterday as the so-called Big Four clashed with the nation holding it’s collective breaths — according to Sky — for the ‘closest title race in history’. I am sure that was a hyperbole, only short-memoried TV blokes would have you think, as I am fairly certain that such a superlative wouldn’t even apply to the history of the Premier League.
But we are here to talk about yesterday’s game, regardless of the flashlights associated with Easter Sunday.