If the “one step forward, two steps backward” pattern that United have established this season is anything to go by, expect the Reds to suffer a catastrophic defeat at Newcastle tomorrow,having delivered one of the most unexpected results of the season on Tuesday night.
The fact United travel to the North East with all the focus on Wednesday’s return leg in Munich is extremely surprising, given the general – and justified – doom and gloom that surrounded the club ahead of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw. The trip to Bavaria is firmly in the minds of players and fans alike, particularly considering that United have nothing left to play for in the Premier League, as it’s been to the case for the last month or so.
With Spurs conspiring to push us into the Europa League, a win tomorrow could see United momentarily leapfrog Tottenham in sixth place, as they do not play until Monday night when they host Sunderland. Regardless of all the PR talk that will be trot out by the club and its employees if United do qualify for the Europa League, the Champions League’s poor sister remains a competition nobody wants to be involved with, unless you’re Newcastle or a team managed by Rafa Benitez, of course.
With that and Wednesday in mind, expect David Moyes – who, miraculously, has enjoyed a rather positive week – to ring some changes to the team. Patrice Evra could replace Alex Buttner, who has very much played himself into contention for a starting spot at the Allianz Arena, while Rafael is likely to come in for Rio Ferdinand, with Phil Jones moving alongside Nemanja Vidic.
The human bog brush was yet again hopelessly out of his depth on Tuesday and we can only hope Fellaini is given the nod tomorrow, mainly as it’d limit his chances of embarrassing himself on Wednesday night, while TClevz23 might return to the starting line-up.
Cleverley once scored at St. James’ Park and managed to look like a good midfielder that day, which is more than can be said about any other ground he’s played on during his career so far. Ashley Young and Juan Mata are likely to come into the team, while Adnan Januzaj could enjoy the opening stages of the game from the bench for the fourth consecutive match.
Adnan’s last start came against Liverpool and while it’s too soon to be ringing alarm bells, we can only hope that Moyes doesn’t treat him the way he handled Ross Barkely at Everton (ie: start him for a while, make everybody aware of how good a player he is and then bench him for the rest of the season).
Wayne Rooney will again be up-front on his own and expect the self-proclaimed best fans in the world to remind him of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s red card every time he touches the ball tomorrow.
Newcastle’s season has gone from being unexpectedly good to utter mediocrity and they’ve now failed to score in 10 of their last 14 games – a situation not helped by an injury to their talismanic striker Loic Remy – and have lost four of their last six games at home, which doesn’t bode well for them ahead of tomorrow, given United have the best away record in the Premier League.
It’s hard to get excited about tomorrow but a positive result would at least avenge the defeat earlier this season – Newcastle’s first win at Old Trafford in 41 years – and build some confidence ahead of Wednesday.
Probable starting XI: