The usual format for an article is to open with a witty introduction filled with crudely constructed similes and metaphors designed to distract the reader from what is unlikely to be the most interesting piece of sports journalism they will read this week. Sunday’s match needs no introduction. This derby is massive.
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Roy Keane was, without doubt, one of the most influential footballers Manchester United have ever employed not to mention one of the very best central midfielders in the history of football.
Since his acrimonious departure from Old Trafford however, Keane has found it startlingly easy to make comments about the club, Sir Alex Ferguson or his previous team mates.
In his latest outburst Keanes directs his criticism at a player who, coupled with Keane, formed part of a mouth watering midfield combination which won everything there is to win at club level, Paul Scholes.
There is no rest for the wicked. There is even less rest for the cardiovascular systems of those who support Manchester United, it seems. Having negotiated a deserved draw against Chelsea on Sunday, irking many an ABUs in the process after United fans took the liberty of celebrating a last minute equaliser, Louis Van Gaal’s troops make the short journey across town to face the defending champions.
The prospect of United traveling to the Etihad as underdogs would have seemed sheer lunacy until a few seasons ago but it’s now widely accepted, given City have won two of the last three titles and put eight goals past United in the last three meetings, winning every single one of them.
Luke Shaw believes Manchester United are slowly rediscovering their mojo and are on their way to become a “scary” team to face. even though the England international there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
The 19-year-old defender insisted that with Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick on their way back to full fitness and Wayne Rooney set to return from his three-match ban, United will be a team no-one will relish facing.
It is now almost a year since Manchester United won a game against a top four side, but there were positives to be drawn from the 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Sunday, even though United remain a work in progress.
Clash of the Titans
It could get messy on Sunday. Eamonn Holmes at an all you can eat buffet messy. Everyone is aware of a possible humiliation, but there is reason to be positive. A talented and ambitious group of players, a big game manager at the helm and an electric Old Trafford atmosphere. The stage is set for a match of astronomical proportions. Eamonn Holmes proportions.
United fans are still full of optimism and hope for this team as reflected by the demand for Manchester United tickets, optimism that is not misplaced. Although the results have yet to become stable and the defensive performances have been as shaky as Rolf Harris’ alibi for his whereabouts during the 1970s, this is a team full of promise. Not just built around superstars but filled with grit and determination, motivated by a fiery Dutchman.
There is only so far promise can get you, however, and while United appear to be a work in progress, their visitors on Sunday appear to be the finished article.
When Manchester United hosted Chelsea last season, on a balmy Monday night in August, David Moyes’ men arrived into the fixture on the back of an impressive 4-1 win away at Swansea and while the turgid stalemate that followed against the Blues was hardly exciting, it definitely did not provide any indications about the shamble that would unfold in the following months.
That United could find themselves happy with the same result on Sunday, speaks volume of how tough United have found things under Louis Van Gaal and of how well Chelsea have done so far this season.