Manchester United will take on Real Sociedad tonight knowing that a win in San Sebastian would put them on pole-position to clinch qualification to the round of 16, as United enter tonight’s match only three points away from the 10-point tally that is normally considered crucial to progress to the second stage of the competition.
In the first half at least, Saturday’s win against Fulham showed glimpses of the ruthless and clinical United of yesteryear and having won the last four matches in all competitions and having extended their unbeaten run to seven games, David Moyes wants to continue such a positive run ahead of Sunday’s clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
David Moyes has demanded protection for Adnan Januzaj, but has told the Belgian teenager that he can expect to be on the receiving end of some rough treatment and must learn from Lionel Messi’s example when it comes to handle late tackles and unorthodox strategies.
Januzaj was stamped on by Sascha Riether at Fulham on Saturday, with the German full-back now charged with violent conduct by the FA, after he appeared to intentionally leave his studs on Januzaj’s leg as the Belgian defended the ball by the corner flag in Fulham’s defensive third of the pitch, late in the second half.
After a summer during which he seemed destined to leave Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround of form, enjoying his best form of the last couple of years and proving pivotal to United’s mini-revival that has seen them going unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions.
David Moyes, who must be grateful for the much-needed four wins in a row United have secured over the last two weeks, has praised Rooney’s contribution, hailing the 28-year-old has United’s new leader after yet another inspired performance on Saturday.
It was an afternoon of fun, beers were joyfully consumed, classic songs were belted out with gusto and United seemed to slightly regain the swagger of yesteryear. It was, in other words, the sort of afternoon that had proved all too rare so far this season.
Except that United’s leisurely stroll along the Thames could have been even better had Moyes’ men capitalised on a formidable start that had them three goals up within 24 minutes, rather than sit back and negotiate the second half with all the intensity of an 18-year-old waking up stranded on a park bench after a monumental night out.
Manchester United travel to Fulham today searching for the continuity that’s been sorely missing so far this season as the Reds seek to secure their first back-to-back league wins of the campaign at Craven Cottage.
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Despite making his long-awaited competitive debut for Manchester United on Tuesday, Wilfried Zaha could still be allowed to leave the club on loan in the January transfer window, with newly-promoted Cardiff City keen to secure the former Palace’s man services for the remainder of the season.
Zaha signed for United last January, but after completing his £15m from Crystal Palace to Old Trafford this summer, the 20-year-old’s opportunities have been extremely limited, despite an excellent pre-season.
Patrice Evra has demanded United win the next 10 games in a row to get kick-start their season and to give themselves a chance of entering the festive period in a good position.
After a less than auspicious start under David Moyes, United have won their last three games, beating Real Sociedad in the Champions League, Stoke in the Premier League and Norwich in the Capital One Cup – all wins coming at Old Trafford – bringing their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions.
Manchester United will still be considering whether Patrice Evra is the right man for the left back role, after approaches for Everton’s Leighton Baines and Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao during the summer transfer window couldn’t be finalised by Ed Woodward, with the latter a last minute fiasco which topped off an embarrassing window.
Many Reds aren’t convinced by Baines, claiming that it’d be foolish to spend £20m on a left-back who will be 29 next year. However, he is better than Evra and should be top of Moyes new year transfer targets.