What a furore, what a circus, what a week.
When the news arrived that Wayne Rooney was on the bench for Tuesday’s match against one of the World’s biggest clubs I have to admit it made me laugh.
Only two weeks previous I’d posted a piece about Sir Alex settling a score with Rooney over his shennanigans back in 2010. The post was met with disbelief and tangible support for a man whose work ethic, goals and apparent remorse has won back the Old Trafford faithful, or at least those who frequent RedRants anyway.
United continued their astonishing run of drawing Premier League opposition in the FA Cup when they drew Chelsea in the 6th Round last month. I’m not sure of the facts exactly but I know it’s something like 23 out of the last 28 draws we’ve faced Premier League opposition.
United are currently bwin’s 2nd favourites for this season’s competition which (for us) kicked off with a trip to Upton Park to face West Ham in the 3rd Round which took a last minute pearler from then in-form Robin van Persie to secure a replay at Old Trafford a fortnight later where United progressed comfortably.
In Rounds 4 and 5 United faced Fulham and Reading at home and again progressed comfortably into the next round. Tomorrow however sees a tougher test as a wounded United take on Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea in the final round of ties to be played outside Wembley.
United are a top priced 1.83 with Coral to beat Chelsea in their last quarter-final FA Cup clash at Old Trafford.
It will be the eleventh tie in the competition between the pair, and the Red Devils lead the head-to-head record by eight wins to two.
Chelsea have also never won in five previous FA Cup games at Old Trafford, losing four, drawing one and scoring just one goal in total.
Sir Alex Ferguson has come out swinging in response to rumours that wanted Wayne Rooney on his way out of Old Trafford, following his omission from the starting line-up against Real Madrid on Tuesday night. Speculation had since grown on tabloids and broadsheets that the United striker could be leaving the club in the summer, a notion Fergie has categorically dismissed in his press conference this morning.
Up until 7.45pm on Tuesday night, in keeping with a lazy habit that wants everything to be boiled down to one individual, Manchester United – Real Madrid had been billed as the “Ronaldo homecoming”. As the teamsheets were announced, the game became a sort of unofficial “Ryan Giggs day”, before ultimately, and rather depressingly if you are a Red, turning into Cuneyt Cakir’s night.
It had been described as the match for which the world would stop, the titanic clash between two of European football’s heavyweights that was going to act as advert for the beautiful game.
And for 56, entertaining and nerve-wracking minutes it was just that. Two great clubs and two of the best managers the game has seen going head to head, blow by blow as they had done in the first leg.
United take on Real Madrid at Old Trafford tonight in the second leg of their Champions League tie (7.45pm KO, Live On ITV1) and are a top priced 3.2 with Coral to beat the mighty Spaniards.
Sir Alex’s side did well to draw 1-1 at the Bernabeu, where they created plenty of chances and Robin van Persie missed two good opportunities late on.
That result meant that they have only lost once in their last 14 Champions League home games (nine wins, four draws), and their opponents have only won once in their last five away games in England in this competition (two draws, two defeats).
Ever since Manchester United were drawn against Real Madrid in the first knockout round of the 2013 Champions’ League, the 5th of March has been on every United and Madrid fan’s mind. It is a match that sets the world alight and inspires a thousand clichés of the highest quality. But no cliché can do this gargantuan game justice (another cliché), as two iconic teams, rich in both history and talent compete in a finely poised tie to advance to the last 16.
“Form goes out the window in games like these.” Of course, this is true to an extent, and United fans will be hoping Real’s two Clasico wins aren’t replicated at Old Trafford.