The world really can go through some dramatic declines. As it changes around Bruce Forsyth’s lifeless corpse sometimes we fail to appreciate how rapidly things have transformed.
Within a few years cities can go from wonderful holiday destinations to urban decay. Musicians who once lit up the planet become distant memories. Donald trump has gone from being an eccentric billionaire to being an eccentric turd.
A true showcase of how rapidly things can decline was the football match at Anfield last weekend. Two clubs that once were the most revered footballing empires resembled a divorced father. Lost, lacking identity and just hoping he hasn’t cried today.
But the new week arrived with United securing their fourth win a row against Liverpool and the signs of a purple patch. With it will come renewed hope and blind optimism, as United fans will likely fall into the trap they’ve been victim of since Ferguson’s retirement.
The last two decades of success mean United fans are still clamouring for the constant drip of trophies, but are unwilling to accept that this club is a long way from the force it once was. With every string of wins comes a stirring of optimism which catastrophically crashes once the defeats return.
Two games at Old Trafford should be six easy points and a run at the title. But this is not the same United many have grown up with. This is a time of uncertainty and inconsistency. Expectations need to be managed.
Similarly to not crying in the shower, winning against Southampton can’t be guaranteed.
Manchester United team news
A loss and a genuine shame is the news that Ashley Young will face an extended period on the sidelines with a groin injury. Van Gaal has hinted that he’ll dip into the transfer market to find a temporary replacement, but for this weekend it’s likely the Dutchman will have to improvise again.
The paper thin squad continues to cause problems as Michael Carrick and Phil Jones are yet to return to the team. Marcos Rojo and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also still set to miss out through injury.
Southampton team news
Southampton’s new signing Charlie Austin could make his debut, especially as fellow striker Graziano Pelle is doubtful with a knee injury.
Jay Rodriguez and Florian Gardos remain on the sidelines.
For the first time in a long time Wayne Rooney looks like he belongs in the team. Partly because he’s slow, lethargic and inconsistent but also because he’s starting to score goals.
Although the England striker has been nothing short of atrocious this season, his current purple patch in front of goal has been key to United’s lift in form. With their captain revitalised the team looks like it’s capable of producing results and climbing back into the top four.
With Southampton also coming into form, Rooney’s goal scoring run is welcomed with open arms and will be essential in a match that is unlikely to have few openings.
Southampton are well organised and have recently recovered their form by tightening up at the back. Now their attacking players are able to express themselves and cause the damage everyone knows they can.
Saturday’s game presents a tough test that will require a captain and striker capable of leading the line.
Predicted starting XI