On Monday, it’ll be a year since Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of his last ever game at Old Trafford but the way things have unfolded this season one’d be forgiven for thinking that 10 years have passed by since that rainy May afternoon. United’s catastrophic season simply refuses to end, the feel good factor generated by David Moyes’ sacking and Ryan Giggs’ first game in charge evaporated in less than a week, as United were their usual inept selves on Saturday.
The defeat against Sunderland underlined that while appointing a world class manager is crucial, so is securing world class players in the upcoming transfer window if United are to challenge for trophies again in the foreseeable future, for most members of the current squad simply aren’t good enough.
If ever a documentary on people stealing a living as footballers were to be released, we can expect Ashley Young and Nani to feature prominently in it, while Michael Carrick has been a shadow of the player he was last season, Darren Fletcher has done even too well to recover but can’t be trusted to play every week and the less said about The Brand and the human bog brush, the better.
On Saturday, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic offered a timely reminder that expecting to win trophies with a centre-back who should have called it a day a year ago and one who’s already thinking about life at his future club is absolutely ludicrous.
Defeat against Sunderland – the seventh time United lost at home this season and what an utterly shambolic record it is – means that if Spurs pick up a point in their final game of the season, United will miss out on a European spot for the first time since 1990 which, given the sorry state of affairs that has become routine at Old Trafford, might be a blessing in disguise.
Not that Spurs should be too concerned about losing their grip on sixth place anyway, given that it’s far from certain that United will pick up six points from their last two games, though one would hope that the players might feel the urge to deliver in their last home game this season, particularly as it could be the final appearance at Old Trafford for some of them.
Vidic could lead the team out on last time, while it might be the last occasion we see Patrice Evra in a red shirt at Old Trafford and, more importantly, will Giggsy decide to grace the hollow turf on last time?
Wayne Rooney could return from injury and Giggs is expected to give some of the youngsters a chance to impress. Whether on loan or with the U21 the likes of Tom Lawrence, Ben Pearson and James Wilson have been United’s most positive note this season and Giggs has recognised the need to blood fresh faces into a team that badly needs reinvigorating.
Hull haven’t secured a point in a league game at Old Trafford since drawing a Second Division fixture in the 1923-24 season and have only won once in Manchester, in the third round of the 1952 FA Cup, but this season United have made a habit of gifting wins to team that hadn’t won at Old Trafford in ages – Sunderland had to wait 46 years, Newcastle 42 and West Brom 36 – therefore don’t rule out Steve Bruce’s men joining the list.
Probable starting XI: