Forget about finishing seventh and having to make do with the Europa League next season, forget about relinquishing any chances of defending the title as early as in December, forget even about the utterly dire football we have witnessed over the last eight months: Sunday’s is the game David Moyes simply can’t afford to lose.
He can’t afford to lose it because patience is wearing thin after a dismal campaign, he can’t afford to lose it because it’d represent another set-back ahead of Wednesday’s already desperate task of overturning a 2-0 deficit in the Champions League and, first and foremost, he can’t afford to lose it because it’s Liverpool.
The importance of the match for both David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers – albeit for very different reasons – and the nature of the rivalry between their respective clubs may mean that Sunday’s encounter between Manchester United and Liverpool is more of a battle of stealth than strategy. However, here’s a quick look at how the sides, if they continue with the game-plans that have brought them success in recent weeks, may approach the game.
David Moyes has, rather staggeringly, failed to name the same starting eleven in two consecutive matches since the start of his Manchester United tenure. Nevertheless, a desire to examine the credentials of young defenders, ahead of a summer of upheaval, and some promising away performances from his front six may convince the Scot to redeploy the side that secured victory in United’s most recent match, at the Hawthorns.
Following the well-established tradition that has characterised Liverpool managers for a couple of decades, Brendan Rodgers has chosen to prepare for tomorrow’s game by, unsurprisingly, talking about United and explain in detail the “dangers” the club are facing by missing out on a Champions League spot.
Rodgers is undoubtedly well aware of what it means to be left out of Europe’s top competition, for he’s never managed in the Champions League himself and Liverpool have missed out on a top four finish in the last four seasons and while there’s no denying that Liverpool have been superior this season, claiming missing out on the Champions League is dangerous is bit rich coming from him.
Robin Van Persie has dismissed speculations that he’s unhappy at Manchester United and that will leave the club in the summer, insisting instead that he’d be “delighted” to sign a new contract, to extend his stay at Old Trafford beyond the two years remaining on his current deal.
Like for everybody else connected with United, this season has been a troublesome one for RVP. The focal point of United’s attack last season and the catalyst for Sir Alex Ferguson’s last league title, the Dutchman has suffered a couple of injuries this season that have limited his appearances on the pitch and was happy to criticise his team-mates after the defeat against Olympiacos in Athens.
Marouane Fellaini has asked Manchester United to give David Moyes time, insisting that the United manager will turn things around despite a horrible first season at Old Trafford.
Fellaini himself has endured a troubled first campaign at United, after arriving from Everton on deadline day last summer for £27m, but the Belgian midfielder has stated he’s determined to repay the faith Moyes has shown in him and is desperate to help his manager and the club out of the difficult situation they’ve found themselves in throughout the season.
Javier Hernandez’s agent has dismissed rumours that wanted the Mexican striker linked with a move to Inter Milan in the summer, claiming that he has not been approached by any club and that Chicharito is likely to remain at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.
Hernandez has been on the fringe of David Moyes’ squad this season, yet he’s still managed to find the net 10 times in 17 appearances in all competitions even though he’s only started only four Premier League games during Moyes’ inaugural campaign at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney has admitted he’d love to captain Manchester United and England and has revealed he’s been helping United youngsters this season as they work on their game, with Adnan Januzaj being one of the players who have put in extra work with Rooney.
While he might be as far from the stereotype of ideal role model as his agent is from acting in a transparent manner, Rooney is the overwhelming favourite to replace Nemanja Vidic as club captain at the end of the season, once the Serbian defender leaves for Inter Milan, while captaining England remains firmly in Rooney’s sight.
The American firm Baron Capital has bought 24% of all the shares Manchester United have made available on the New York Stock Exchange and now own almost a quarter of the shares the Glazers released on the NYSE in 2012 which, unfortunately, only represents 2.5% of the club, meaning Malc and his cronies remain in full control of the club.
The Glazers released 10% of the club onto the stock market 18 months ago and Baron Capital’s share purchase is believed to be motivated by the prospect of United remaining an alluring long-term investment, particularly after the club’s announcement of a new deal with Nike, which will pour £600m into United’s coffers over the next decade.