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, 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.
Marouane Fellaini has admitted that Manchester United are struggling to find the right balance between attacking flair and protecting their incredibly shaky defence.
The Belgian international finally his United account in after coming off the bench against West Brom on Monday night, some 14 months after joining United and admitted he “had to wait a long time for this moment”. Despite Fellaini’s effort, however, United could only settle for a 2-2 draw, despite dominating possession and having more shots on target than West Brom and the Belgian feels the side lacks balance.
Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed suggestions that he is partly responsible for Manchester United’s decline, claiming it is absurd to think he left behind an ageing team and an “antiquated” club and insisting that he wasn’t the only person responsible for the appointment of David Moyes.
Ferguson described as “nonsense” the suggestion that Moyes had inherited a team in decline, saying the problem for his successor was that he had found it “a massive jump” to move to Old Trafford and “hadn’t realised just how big United is as a club.”
Manchester United extended their unbeaten run to three games last night, snatching a late draw away at West Brom. It was neither what United wanted nor what they deserved, as West Brom’s second goal came totally against the run of play, but United’s shaky back four conspired against them yet again.
Here’s five talking points from last night.
Since the dawn of time Manchester United and Liverpool fans have argued. Ancient cave paintings illustrate the fierce debates over which club is in decline and who is launching a resurgence. Even as man evolved to use tools and Liverpool fans continued to worship the sun the debates continued to rage. Currently the heated exchanges focus on who has been worth the money, Mario Balotelli or Radamel Falcao.
So far neither has set the Premier League alight, both standing in Diego Costa’s terrifying shadow. That said, one is looking like a work in progress and the other an impulse buy from the discount bin at Blockbuster.
Manchester United might have to pay as much as £12m to sign Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar in January.
According to ESPN, Villa will accept the probability of losing their centre-half but Paul Lambert will only allow his club captain to leave if Villa’s financial demands are met.
Ryan Giggs has urged Manchester United to show they can go head-to-head with title favourites Chelsea and Manchester City and show more consistency than they’ve done so far.
Despite a slow start, United entered the international the break in fourth spot, eight points behind league leaders Chelsea but only three points adrift of City, with the former due at Old Trafford on October 26, while the latter will host United the following week. Giggs insisted that while Chelsea have been impressive and City have looked solid, only a positive result against both clubs will give a valid indication of how far United have come under Louis Van Gaal.