Blackburn v Manchester United – Preview

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United
Ewood Park, Saturday 19 April 2008, 17:15

The numbers point, as usual, to a United win – Blackburn have lost to United more than they’ve lost to any other team since the Premier League started, we did the double against them last season, Blackburn have lost 7 out of 7 fixtures against the Big Four this season, lost the last game to Liverpool while United are on a high after beating Arsenal.

Blackburn’s season is more or less over – they have an outside chance for qualifying for Europe via the InterToto Cup but that will require several results to go their way. United have, after beating Arsenal on Sunday and watching Chelsea draw with Wigan, one hand on the title, but it will take all their professionalism and focus to finish the job off as champions.

This fixture is the first of four season-deciding matches for United – Blackburn away on Saturday evening is followed by Barcelona away on Wednesday, Chelsea away on Saturday (early afternoon kickoff) before hosting Barcelona at home on Tuesday. 4 games in 11 days that will more or less make the difference between a good and great season.

With that in mind, Ferguson may choose to rotate some of his squad and rest a couple of his players on Saturday. You’d think that Ronaldo is undroppable, considering his form but to me he’s seemed like needing a rest in the last couple of games and surely sitting on the bench is better than having lumps kicked out of him on Saturday.

The other person who might be held back is Owen Hargreaves (who is injured according to some reports but with no official word I doubt it) – Hargo has been in great form whenever he’s played for United and (as long as he can keep his tendonitis under control) will be a valuable squad member in the coming years.

There have been rumours that Vidic will be ready to start against Blackburn. As much as I’d like him to start playing again, I’m thinking (hoping) that Fergie gives Pique another runout and holds Vida back for Barcelona (or he could rest Rio and start with Vidic, depends on what Fergie sees on the training ground on Friday).

However, I don’t expect wholesale changes. Fergie and the players know that if United can scrape to wins over the next 11 days, they’ll have enough time to rest. Expect this side to go at Blackburn all guns blazing, with Giggs, and possibly Silvestre and Anderson getting starts. Too bad Fletch isn’t back – he would have been good for this type of (scrappy) game.

Prediction: 2-1 to United.

Over to you.



  1. Michael; You are right. My Saha comments were made in the heat of the moment and although he has no control over his injuries, it still causes me great frustration because his inability to play is severely hurting the team. Fine, I will get off his back that I have made my case for his immediate transfer out of OT. Let some other poor unfortunate outfit get stuck with his contract and medical bills. And let him be the focus of attention on another team’s blog. I for one have had enough
    of his absences. Ole earned his time off for all the years of great service to us. Saha hasn’t.

    Finally; why does supporting our team on this site mean unconditional support with many of you? Why are so many of you so bent out of shape if somebody has the gumption to actually criticize a player or the team? What we have here is a bunch of conformists who never question anything and who love unconditionally like some dumb puppy. Geez!

  2. [Grognard]
    Okay, apart from JB, no one else attacked you.

    And you are not the only one to get attacked always. I know how much stick a commenter got for calling Rooney crap.

    So don’t feel that you are always being victimised here. It happens, and especially after a bad day like today, sparks can fly.


  3. Criticizing a player for his performance is fair. But criticising a player for being injured doesn’t strike as something logical. If anything it’s a problem with the medical staff and the management for not realising how chronic his injury is. I think Fergie gambled on his fitness, and hoped somehow things would fall into place.

    I don’t think people have problems with criticism as long as they feel that it’s justified.

    But other than that, sticking through thick and thin is inherent in fan culture in England and Europe, and that extends to players as well. So it’s a cultural thing possibly?

    Of course, you do have exceptions like Chelski booing their own team.

  4. RR; I’m not talking so much about attacks on me as what I am noticing in terms of the social climate on this site. There is a great deal of intolerance for alternative thinking or ideas that don’t fall into a conformist and almost militaristic way of thinking. Questioning a player or just not liking one is generally not acceptable or the United Police come out in full force. Disagree all you want, but fans should voice their honest feelings without being called idiots or traitors.

    I admire the Chelsea fans for booing their team. They deserve it for the rubbish style they play and for the cost of tickets to go see themselves bored to death.

  5. Trust me. I don’t have control over that. 🙂

    Again, that’s how the environment may have evolved into. But then, a person like you and me, has a choice to make to either bear with it or move on. That’s the power of the internet. You can choose to ignore those who don’t foment intelligent discussion without having to respond to him.

  6. Anyway let’s move on to other things. Barcelona just drew 0-0 to Espanyol in their derby game. I suggest you all to head over to the excellent FCBNews Barcelona blog for updates on how their players are performing. Here’s the link to the latest match report.

    And here’s the link to the blog in general, for you to read through over the next couple of weeks. Nic runs a fairly balanced discussion on all things Barca.

  7. As fans of United we have the desire to see our team and its players perform to the best of their ability which hopefully brings the trophies and success we all crave, but we also have the right to look at those same players critically whenever they underperform and we should never allow the situation to develop were constructive criticism is looked upon as being disloyal.
    This requires us to perform a balancing act between on the one hand supporting our players through thick and thin, and on the other hand wanting our team to improve and be the best that it can be.
    For me, Paul Scholes is a classic example, he is one of my favourite all time players, a true genius and United legend, in fact Im thinking of buying a shirt he wore in the Champions League as a momento before he retires. But despite my feelings towards him its becoming clear that Scholesys best days are behind him and young players like Anderson bring more to the team, but am I being disloyal by saying this, I dont think so.
    As United fans we should respect and support all our players especially those who have given a lifetimes service, but we should also be able to give critical opinions, as long as those opinions are based on well reasoned and logical thinking and have the best interests of the club at heart.

  8. Fred the Red; Well put mate. Even I realize that I was overly harsh on Saha but we shouldn’t just be a bunch of cheerleaders either. The problem is that some on this site don’t tolerate others well reasoned and logical thinking unless they agree with them. I agree with you on Scholes but I do know of a few members, especially one in the region of Ireland that won’t stand for that kind of thinking.

    On another note, what I would give for Luca Toni. Four straight games with a brace and in vital games too. Now that’s a striker and a player who can be counted on in the clutch. And even when Bayern’s game gets a little too static, he’s always there to bail them out with a big goal or two. Too bad we never went for him despite his age. Sometimes there is nothing better than experience when the quality is still clearly evident.

  9. Grognard: Make up your mind, were your comments on Saha heat of the moment or not? You’ve latterly claimed they were heat of the moment so if that was actually the case, where was I showing intolerence to ‘well reasoned and logical thinking’?

    As for Scholes, I would not start him in any of the next three games. But I guess you know what I think about the matter better than I do.

  10. Grognard, thats a bit of a coincidence coz Im from Ireland myself, about a mile up the road from were George Best grew up. As to what was said earlier I think we are all guilty at certain times of speaking out of frustration so soon after a match that didnt go according to plan so we need to be careful what we say and how we say it.
    When Saha is fit and firing on all cylinders he is a great asset to our team to have him available for todays match might have swung it in our favour. I think he is a good player but the reality is that wether its his fault or not, his continued absence through injury means that sooner or later a decision is going to have to be made on the merits of keeping him as a player, this isnt being disloyal, its just plain common sense.
    As for your point on Luca Toni I must admit that I like him as a player but personally I would like to see Huntelaar at the club coz I think he would score a bundle of goals for us and also I think he has a lot more to his game than people give him credit for.

  11. another thing I meant to to ask you Grognard, I dont know what age you are, but being an NFL fan do you remember Jerry Rice of the 49ers playing, what a player he was.

  12. Quick question, what do you all think of Kris Boyd of Rangers. I haven’t watched him in a while, but I think he could be a good back-up striker.

  13. JB; My comments on Saha were angry and very much in the heat of the moment but they were building for a long while. I snapped on Friday while listening to my favorite North American podcast called World Soccer Daily. The hosts let me know that Saha had injured himself yet once again in training. Even they were exasperated with him and called him bloody useless. Mine was a knee jerk reaction that comes from months and months of frustration and knowing that had he played just five more games for us this season, we probably would have clinched the BPL by now and Rooney, Tevez and even Ronaldo could have gotten a little more needed rest. Saha’s abilities are good enough to have shifted more points in our direction. He may have been the difference against Man City or Middlesbrough for example. Then we would not have Chelsea breathing down our necks.

    As for your lack of tolerance, it’s not about disagreeing with me JB. It’s about having to insult my person as well as my intelligence in the process. Sorry but you were out of line as you made it very personal. I quite often agree with your statements and even then you make smart little remarks about the world ending or something to that effect just because I agreed with your statement.
    And I quite often point out to you that I agree. Yet I cannot ever recall you praising me or agreeing with one of my comments. You will be very quick to jump on me like a scolding father or school master when I say something that you disagree with. You take my “well reasoned and logical thinking” and cast it aside as if you are the only one who knows. That’s a little condescending if you don’t mind me saying. Who died and made you King?

    Fine disagree, but calling me crass, classless, and distasteful because I ranted on a player I don’t much care for was unnecessary. Big frakken deal? Who cares? Life goes on. Deal with. But I am a member of a blog we all share and we should all try to be tolerant of each other and try to get along. The people I have had issue with on this site have always been aggressive in their intolerance of my views and they get personal. The ones who respectfully disagree I have no problem with.

    I really don’t want to take issue with you as a person or with your views or beliefs. I just wish you would be a little more respectful of mine. It’s not important if I criticize a player. If they deserve it in my eyes, they will get it, regardless of whether I’m fair or not. I have that right as well, they certainly don’t read my posts or give a damn what I say anyway. But we sort of know each other in cyber space on this blog. In that scenario, politeness and respect to each other is mandatory. We’ve had our differences before but I’ve never called you names or insulted you. Please remember that. Despite what you might think, I have feelings too and I’m from a generation that isn’t so desensitized by modern technology and the Internet to show courtesy to a chat mate. I sincerely hope you understand my feelings now and why I reacted to your style of attack the way I did.

  14. Fred I was referring to somebody else and it was not a knock on the Irish, believe me. And I’m not really sure I totally understand your point on being careful about what we say. I’m opinionated and critical of players but I think I have only twisted off on one player ever, and that was today. I reached my frustration point with Miss Saha. He’s a wimp, end of story. If he can’t recover from his problem, then he should retire because he is collecting a paycheck and not contributing at all. In fairness, his problem looks chronic and irreparable. He should stop holding the team hostage. It’s just been too long and it’s got me all hot under the collar because so much is at stake right now and we are so thin up front. We really needed his presence on the pitch. What can I say, I feel really let down by him because it seems to me that he has an incredibly low pain threshold. Players like Neville and Ole get more understanding because of their tenure but because of their past history as dependable and vital soldiers in the cause. I also blame the team for putting the players and supporters through this misery. They should have given him away in January and bought a replacement. In fact, Fergie should never have let Rossi go.

    As for Toni, we would never get him as he is not available and he is not it seems, Fergie’s type of player because he is good and scores goals as a striker (JOKE!). He’s one Hell of a natural goal scorer who is so clutch. I’m so gung ho for Huntelaar I can see Fergie spiting me and ignoring his existence come transfer time. It will totally gut me if he gets signed up by either Chelsea, Spurs or Liverpool. All the more reason to sign him. To keep him out of the clutches of our top opponents. Instead, Fergie is looking towards more Portuguese in order to rename the team Porto United. And this rumor about him chasing a couple of Wigan minnows when we have more important fish to fry is disturbing to say the least. It’s going to be an interesting summer.

    Finally Fred, I am very aware of the great Jerry Rice. The greatest receiver of all time and arguably the greatest player of all time. Incredible stats. I personally believe that joe Montana was the greatest player of all time. I am a Cowboys and Patriots fan as well as old days Dolphins fan. I was also a big admirer of the Bill Walsh run San Francisco 49ers and great Montana/Rice years. Truly awesome. I wish United could handle opponents in a final like they did Denver in 1989.
    55-10. That’s 10-1 in soccer. Wouldn’t that be a great score in CL final against either Liverpool or Chelsea? A true fantasy. I’ll settle for 1-0.

  15. Evra played well yesterday but he was totally outmuscled by roberts and esp Santa cruz who was deployed on the right .. I think O’Shea should have been the left-back , though Evra did well out of all our four defenders ..

  16. Hey i’m new to this. Been reading red rants for more than a year now not every week mind you but for around that time. Anyways it was a disappointing match to say the least. Having been blessed with great football the past few matches its really sad to see a lack of effort in the first half and then trying to salvage it in the second half. Just wondering how credible is you experienced guys should know i know tribal is quite full of rubbish taken from bogey news articles and opinions from such blog sites as our own but for all those people who have been shouting out saying to get lahm or alves this article is quite interesting if true.

  17. Well yesterday the moment Ronaldo hit the post we knew that the signs were negative !

    Grognard mate , you are the one persons posts i make it a point to read 🙂 .However you are absolutely wrong with many things !

    “Fergie should never have let Rossi go.”
    Well 2 things to remember .. It was Rossi who needed more first team action and second Fergie may be would have thought he would not be able to make it into first team !

    “Saha should stop holding the team hostage. He has an incredibly low pain threshold ”

    Well this is out of frustration rather than anything else however
    This is absolute nonsense ! We all by know have to come to the mutual understanding that he may or should be out of the team .
    Each human being is molded in a different manner which includes recovering from injury . “ROONEY IS THE BEST EXAMPLE”- Yesterday when he surely had a injury he carried to play on which no other EPL player would continued .

    Liverpool has Kewell Arsenal has Van Persie Rosicky Chelsea has Ballack .
    It is the manager who has to take a call whether to depend on these players . Southgate took the call to chuck Viduka.
    So Don`t blame Saha !

    “Fergie is looking towards more Portuguese in order to rename the team Porto United ”
    They are rumors for gods sakes 🙂 . Why would he want to buy Valencia from Wigan . It is like saying buying Zarate 😛
    (They are good players but not good enough for United )
    If we do buy another player from Porto, what is the problem with that . I remember reading a Redranters post about 100% Transfer Success rate , so why not continue it !

    Toni at the age of 31 🙂
    I do rate him highly however Fergie is going for the kill of a Polar Bear which would last another 5 Years . The Next purchase will surely a big striker ! If we can win the UCL we can get almost any striker we want :
    Berbatov , Benzema , Super Mario , The Hunter etc.

    Well i have supported Giggs so far and will continue to do so . However he needs to have a good preseason next time around ! Nani was absolutely fantastic ! He went for Glory a couple of times , his crosses , corners , pace raped Warnock !

    If both Hargo/Anderson start , out attack might be a little bad however the protection they provide for the back 4 is immense !

  18. So lets move on to something better ..

    What formation/players do u think Fergie will employ against Barca ???

    My take :







    “We Will Fucking Murder Them !!!! “

  19. It’s all about desire and legs now…but i think legs is the most important factor right now.

    Yesterday’s performance was so flat, lifeless, Ronaldo looked wrong, seemed to have lost his swagger.
    Nerves, tiredness,little niggles we don’t know about…Everyone except Evra seemed to be moving in slow motion.

    I think the solution to get us over the finish line is to play all the fitest players, the ones who can break down the others team’s play: Anderson, Park, Hargreaves, Tevez and Nani(not necessarily all at once 🙂 )…Then Ronaldo and Rooney can pick up play higher up the pitch on the break.
    Swing some crosses in, take some long shoots…just keep the forward momentum going…

    Energy is the key now, remember Milan, they weren’t anything great, but United didn’t have anything left in the tank…this time it’s different, hope Ferguson uses his new signings till they can’t run no more 🙂

  20. Sahar reminds me of the gag about the wife of Niles Crane, the brother of Frazer. She was always about to make an appearance in the show and then at the last minute she couldn’t turn up . Saha has this knack for getting himself injured just when he is warming up or the day before a game etc.
    May be we should call him Maris!
    Anyway, people are too negative about yesterday’s game. It is the third game in succession that we have to come from behind and get something out of it and that is what champions do!!

  21. Grognard, I know you didnt mean me when you refered to your Irish combatant, I just saw a bit of irony in the fact that our points were more or less in agreement but some of the people that disagreed with you are like myself, from Ireland[or Northern Ireland as some people over here prefer to be called, but we wont open up that can of worms}

    As regards to not understanding me about being careful what we say I just think that after a dodgy result or performance this blog becomes hypersensitive to peoples opinions and half the time I believe the disagreements are magnified due to peoples frustrations, dont know that to be right in every case, its just my thoughts on some of the friction yesterday.

    As for Huntelaar, I think hes more than just a goalscorer and is a lot quicker than people give him credit for. Mental quickness sometimes is greater than physical quickness and this boy just comes alive in the 18 yard box were he not only finishes well, but can play a cute pass for a team mate which he seems to do for Holland as well as Ajax.
    I too will be dissapointed if we dont at least go for him coz he would greatly enhance our forward line and also might bring the best out of Wayne Rooney.

    Ah Bill Walsh and the west coast offence, its all coming back to me now. I agree about Joe Montana, he didnt have the strongest of arms but he played like an absolute surgeon on the field and the niners had the two greatest players of all time in their positions in Jerry Rice and Joe Montana and possibly a third in the safety Ronnie Lott.
    Talk about great clutch players, Montana was possibly the greatest clutch player ive seen in any sport, he almost seemed to enjoy it more when the pressure was on and Rice was simply one of the best athletes ever to play sport

  22. I believe that Owen will be very important against Barca! He should be rested against Chelski so he is fresh in the CL. He can mark Messi out of the game together with Evra. And Anderson is another player that has to be in the United team aginst Barca. I will tell you why!
    Barcelona are a team full of individuals and they dont work as a team. Their defense is just a little bit better than Derby County. The reason for that is that they dont talk to each other and goes to positions they shouldnt be. Their full backs are slow, but loves attacking. If United win the ball after a Barca attack, we can counter with Anderson, Nani and Ronaldo. Anderson is a great tackler and follows the player with the ball al the time. Since Barca players never seems to pass it he should tackle, run and then pass to a fast United player. That is a great way to beat Barca. They are great individuals, but they dont know how to play as a team. Anderson, Evra, Owen, Ronaldo and Rooney will be the most important players for that game. And another thing: they dont play hard!

  23. Dan, if you want to break the record you will have to get Grognard back on, he could start an argument in an empty house.

    just kidding Groggy mate

  24. We have the easier run in from now on. We play Chelsea who NEED to win but we don’t we could even lose and it wouldn’t be that bad.
    Chelsea must win all their games. They play newcastle away and then have to play Bolton who are fighting for survival whereas we have West Ham at home and wigan who will be safe by the time we play them! We are in pole position with just 1 lap to go.


    That’s my first comment. The next will be more logical

  26. But what’s more logical than this?

    Let’s gather Evra , Manucho , Rio , Vida , Saha and the Rocket Ron and have them FCK FRIEDEL+REF

    They made me drink 8 beers (500 ml) in 3 hours. That’s unacceptable.

  27. Ollieys right, two wins from any of our last three games is a strong position, lets not have a mutiny, the finishing lines in sight.

  28. I’m trying to break the recod here . Please Respect.

    Did anybody see that “back-flip” by Benny McCarthy to Santa Cruz?I mean he made a flick pass with his back LOL.
    That’s the most outrageous goal for our def in the season.

  29. Grognard: You are on an internet blog, is their really any requirement for me provide reassurance or paise to your comments that I agree with? I don’t seek or care if I get any praise for my comments and I don’t feel there is any particular requirement to hand any out. As for the smart remarks, it seems even the use of smilies is insuffucient to convey humour.

    Rick: That is exactly the setup I would go for in the next three games. Unfortunately I can’t see SAF starting Hargreaves and Anderson three times in less than a week.

  30. Grognard; the end is near! Don’t let worst case scenarios creep into your mind, we will not lose against Chelsea, it really just seems unthinkable. If we draw against them that’s the league wrapped up in my opinion. Then we will have Barca ripe for the kill after drawing with them 1-1 at the Nou Camp 🙂

  31. Okay, this is getting really silly now.

    Another comment on anything other than footy, is going to be deleted. You’ve all spoken enough, and anyother comment on anything else is unconditionally going to be deleted. Be adults and move on. Remember, no one is forcing anyone to comment here. So if we can discuss about United and footy in general then you are welcome.

    And Conor: To be fair here, JB did attempt to judge Grognard based on his opinion on Saha, which is not something we want from people here.

    Anyway, on to the football.

  32. I was there, I was there, I was there!. Friedel had a scorcher, but B’Burn fans around most of the ground were scared shitless because our lads were fighting for all their Feckin might in the second half. For the B’Burn defence it was like Custer’s last stand. WE WERE UNLUCKY – that’s all!. That idiot Styles was so inept, that his blind sightedness has become legendary, and especially whenever he ref’s United. Not so for the scousers though, he looks to give them everything – ask Everton after what happened to them in the derby at Goodison and the dippers. Hope Hargo and Anderson play against Chelsea, because we will murder them. United fans were incredible at B’Burn yesterday, and we did the B’Burn fans with fervour and outshouting. But then I had a good few bevvies, so my mind might be more than a little bias lol.

  33. Craig; Agreed on the ref, I’m not blaming him solely for our defeat, we weren’t great today, but he just is incompetent
    and this is just the level of refereeing these days for Premier League referees, sad but not much that can be done about it in the next few years, or more to the point, won’t be done. Anyone have any highlights to look over his performance again? From first glance it was fairly awful. And the fans really were brilliant, it s a bit of a disappointment that most of the fans that were in Blackburn are pretty much the only few left who now who to spur their team on, I’m sure out of the 70,000 more fans at OT, 20,000 more at most even make an effort to sing. And Rick I agree that based on form that is the best team we can put out, but the chance that we will play the same team for every game until the rest of the season, no matter how important they are, are very low. The Premier League is still well within our grasp, Barcelona again were lacklustre without Messi and probably more importantly Iniesta, and even though they both will be well rested up I don’t see Barcelona putting up a great fight against us. CL final here we come 🙂
    RR; I realize you last comment was partly aimed towards me, so I changed the comment accordingly, and apologies 🙂

  34. [Craig]
    Heh! He had a shocker didn’t he!
    Btw, match report is up. Head over there for some more match discussion, and perhaps some discussion on the upcoming CL clash against Barcelona.

  35. after watching 2 abortions of a game yesterday (yankees and united) i must say what a horrible day to be a fan of both, yankees not being able to score, and united being screwed out of 3 points by an inept ref and good keeper on his day
    i pray to god styles does not manage the SB game, or i may not bother watching it, hopefully someone with balls to make those game changing calls will manage, the ref for united vs arsenal last week, he did a pretty good job

  36. When it comes to refs, if it’s either Styles, Clattenberg or Bennett, chances are United will get screwed either by him or his linesmen. The hand ball penalty was bad enough but there was a call against Tevez for offside in the first half that really rubbed me wrong. He was in all alone with a fantastic goal scoring chance.

    Fred; An argument broke out in my house yesterday while I was alone and not only did I win, but I got the last word in edge wise. Jose Mourinho would have thought I was fantastic.

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