Manchester United vs Blackburn Rovers: Preview

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Rooney vs BlackburnAfter the effective, if not inspiring, performance of the second string in the Carling Cup earlier in the week, normal service resumes this weekend as United face Blackburn in the Premier League.

Rovers enjoyed a relatively safe passage into the quarter finals of that competition that none of the big guns tend to take very seriously the League Cup themselves on Tuesday night although Saturday should prove a much tougher hurdle for Sam Allardyce and his swine flu-hit charges to negotiate.

With Ferguson guaranteed to reshuffle the pack following the victory over Barnsley, expect atleast eight or nine changes from the team that started at Oakwell. Edwin van der Sar will certainly replace Ben Foster in goal and you would expect that John O’Shea and Patrice Evra will slot back in to the two full-back positions.

Having served his one-match suspension in the Carling Cup, Nemanja Vidic could return to the side although a calf problem renders him a doubt. The much maligned Rio Ferdinand is also struggling with a calf injury so don’t be surprised to see either Jonny Evans or Wes Brown featuring from the start.

In midfield Owen Hargreaves, Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher remain on the sidelines while Ryan Giggs is reportedly struggling with a knee injury. That could see both Nani and Antonio Valencia starting on either flank with Anderson and Michael Carrick forming a central midfield partnership. Gabriel Obertan gave a good account of himself against Mark Robins’ Tykes on Tuesday although a place on the bench looks like the most he can hope for at this very early stage of his United career.

Up top, one would anticipate that Ferguson will opt for the familiar partnership of Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney although Michael Owen will also be in with a shout having took his goal superbly well the other night and generally looked sharp in the limited cameo role he played against Liverpool.

Speaking to the media, Ferguson explained that he is anticipating a difficult encounter with Blackburn, praising the role of Allardyce in picking up the pieces when Mark Hughes departed Ewood Park back in June 2008.

“I saw them recently against Burnley and they played really well in that game,” he said.

“They have always been difficult to beat at Blackburn and I think Sam has built a different team from Mark Hughes’ Blackburn.

“Quite a few decent players have left like David Bentley  and Stephen Warnock  and Sam has had to pick up the thread of what was left and replacing players of that quality was not easy.”

Blackburn are likely to be without Christopher Samba and Jason Roberts who are both suffering from the effects of swine flu and Ferguson moved to insist that United have so far been unaffected by the pandemic.

“It’s an interesting thing. Flu does happen. Whatever you call it, you had Asian flu a couple of years ago with players missing games,” he added.

“Fortunately so far we have been okay.”

Sir Alex may have called for caution ahead of Saturday’s meeting at Old Trafford although anything but a resounding three points would surely fan the flames of the critics even further.

While Sunderland recently caused something of a stir when they deservedly left the Theatre of Dreams with a point, Rovers have only won once in the Premier League at the home of the champions, back in September 2005.

You would hope that the lads will be ready to prove a point following events at Anfield last weekend and with Blackburn’s dismal recent away record in England’s top flight (nine away defeats on the trot), United should be looking to dominate this one from the off.

Prediction: 2-0 United

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277 Comments

  1. Fergie has been in my doghouse for a while now but statements like these may finally get him back in my favor.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1224354/Ben-Foster-s-Manchester-United-prospects-hit-rumours-renewed-bid-Schalkes-Manuel-Neuer.html

    I also find it funny how the three names he has shown the most interest in are the three names that I have pushed on here for well over a year. Yet, some on here have the audacity to say that I don’t know more than anyone else about keepers. Seems that Fergie is proving them wrong. 😀

  2. @ROOOOONEY: I agree but I do not think we will get Villa anyway. Chelsea apparently are offering 33 million for him. Villa prefers us but there is no way the Glazer’s will pay that kind of money for a player over 27 and with no resale value. So Fergie will have to settle for Silva and some other striker I think. Silva and a keeper should be this team’s top priorities. I am still of the belief that even though our top two strikers don’t seem to gel or score at a prolific rate, they will be fine if our midfield is improved and becomes more creative. It will be interesting though now that Villa has claimed he prefers United, what Fergie will do or say if the Glazer’s refuse him this purchase?

  3. @Grognard: Let’s not get premature in our hopes. Ferguson has actually made no statements. According to the article the Daily Mail ‘understands’. When tabloids understand, we should just nod our heads and say, “Yeah, right. Next?” and move on to another article to read. 🙂

    Today it’s Neuer (wel,l for the past month it has been Neuer), last week it was reports that Adler was at Anfield to watch the Liverpool United match and was instantly linked to us.

    I would love a top quality keeper at the club, but let’s wait till there is something concrete in the media.

  4. If that bit about Neuer loving Shalke is true, I hope he stays there. Too few players honour their allegiances these days, it would be refreshing (like Casillas at Real).

    Adler looks more realistic, and cheaper.

    Agree that we won’t get Villa. Class act, but would be the end of Berbatov. Unless we could do some kind of trade of course. We’d also be back to be completely unable to the hold the ball up (front line of Nani, Valencia, Rooney and Villa? No aerial ability whatsoever).

    In a sense our biggest asset is our biggest problem. Rooney requires a certain type of foil to be at his best, and that foil doesn’t seen to be available anywhere in world football. We need someone who is both able to hold the ball up and be competitive in the air as well as being able to run the channels. Berbatov physically should be able to do both, but does neither all that well.

    I know he’s a Chelsea reject, but I for one would love to give Carlton Cole a serious look. Very young, has all the attributes to work with the Roon. Only problem might be his injury record. But if West Ham have a fire sale…

  5. @spizzy: I think I am pretty consistent throughout but yes you are right. Lets not forget that one thing that is consistent about most supporters is that they are fickle and many of them suffer from back problems caused by jumping on and off the bandwago so much. 😀 It’s just human nature. People’s emotions go up and down and a good performance by the team or by a player helps them forget the poor performance of the team or player the previous week. You are right though, it has become a much more increasing trend of late.

  6. @Shimo: We have several players who are more than competent at taking free kicks, Giggs, Rooney, Anderson, Nani but the truth is none of them are superior in that area. That is why a Silva or David Villa would be incredibly helpful. Not only would they make the club better because of their general play, but they are free kick magicians and that would once again offer us that dimension which we lost with Ronaldo. I do think that as great as Ronaldo was at this discipline, he sucked at it for half a season last year until he got his body and his game back to full fitness. Already Giggs and Nani have scored for us on free kicks and Anderson scored a great goal in pre season. So we could be a lot worse.

  7. @Footy4Eddy: Congrats to Wayne and hopefully the little one has taken it’s looks from the mother and it’s athletic skills form dad. 😀 Way to go Wayner. A baby Roonaroo to look forward to wearing United red in 17 years.

  8. @Red Ranter: Whether it’s Neuer or Adler, don’t stifle my fantasy RR. I need to believe that one of these boys will end up at OT and the other at Bayern Munich. 😀 Dare to believe. Adler is probably the best fit for us because he speaks English and his favorite club growing up was United. Showing up to the Liverpool game kind of confirms that too.

  9. @Beachryan: Adler is the more realistic choice but Schalke are also known to be in a little financial trouble and so they may be willing come summer to sell for the right price. The same was said about Arshavin with Zenit. Where is he now. Money talks mate.

  10. @Red Ranter: Trust me mate, I’m so used to my hopes being dashed in life, that I can handle it. But should we get neither of those two keepers, expect a raging rant directed at Fergie just for the sake of it. 😀

  11. @Grognard: noticed this also he(carrick) would often just cough the ball up to anderson and let him run the show when he could have pressed a little or played it to a forward.

    But… at least he didnt give away possession and made less back passes than scholes would have 😎 so i can see him being ahead of scholes in the pecking order now.

  12. @Redrich: Wait a minute. I’m not commenting on the way things are ran, I really couldn’t care less how things are ran. You’ve specifically stated my point in your tangent about insight.

    Some comments that I’ve read on here (and I’ve been reading, just not commenting for a while now) have no insight, they’re just useless criticisms which nobody bothers to justify.

    You can voice any opinions and I really won’t mind. This will be the last post I make about this subject.

    But people seem to take delight in the usual chunner about players being crap, they must just resent their own club in some form or another.

    Of course, if reasons were provided for these opinions then I would think differently.

  13. @Ober-fan: I would disagree with that. I find it hard to imagine people would be delighted at the failure of players. It’s completely irrational and counterproductive. A lot of people here have given reasons for players being crap here. And sometimes they may repeat that statement by saying X player is crap without giving reasons because they assume people already know their stand on said player, because they’ve already given their reasons in the past.

    I think you have a problem with negativity in general. I think, if you’ve read this blog regularly most of those who are negative have been quite expressive and elaborate in their criticism. I don’t want to take names, but I’ll do it for now because it’s fairly obvious. Redrich and Grognard are two people for example who have been accused of being negative. They often get stick for it. But most of their criticism has rarely just been a mere “so and so player is crap”. They’ve written essays here detailing their reasons. I think anyone who takes the effort of doing deserve as much credit (or in fact more credit) than someone who just says: “United lost. But I believe, we’ll win the title.” (That sort of comment doesn’t really contribute much by way of rational debate — and is more a statement of faith.)

  14. @Red Ranter: You’re absolutely right with that statement, you’re even correct in me not enjoying negativity, but who really does?

    It’s just that some people are being defeatist, we’re not in a state of emergency, Chelsea are looking good, yes it’s bad we lost to Liverpuddle, but the season’s far from over and I don’t like to see people panicking and losing faith so early on. I have confidence that United can do it again this season, a rather conservative statement of faith it may be, but who knows, maybe a refreshing point of view.

    I know people won’t be delighted by the failure of players but it’s perfectly possible that people have formed an opinion too quickly and human nature is to not retract a point of view, unless utterly convinced otherwise. Also I think the whole ‘stubborn child’ syndrome comes into play here. Not that people are being stubborn about their opinions but rather they enjoy going against the grain and portraying a negative image. I’m beginning to sound like a psychologist here so I’ll let it be, I don’t want to undermine anyone’s opinions, especially not if they are adequately justified at whatever point in time. It’s just we have plenty of other team’s supporters who can criticise our ‘Nanigoats’ and ‘Donkey Welbecks’.

    I realise I’ve left another comment on this subject so, rather abruptley I’ll say that Fergie should have swallowed his pride and swooped for Beckham under Milan’s bushy, Italian noses.

  15. @Ober-fan: Fair enough, you don’t have to enjoy negativity, but it doesn’t mean you should be telling others how to think. It’s their view on it — they may be right, and they may be wrong. That’s not for us to judge.

    In my years of running this blog, I can say most of the regulars qualify their opinions (positive or negative) with backed up reasons for their thought process. As long as they don’t infringe on another’s right to express their view everything is fair game in my eyes.

    I participate in debates, but remain objective enough to allow freedom of expression because this site is a platform for that. I have seen a lot of fan forums where people have been hounded out just because they have a negative opinion. Anyway, that’s my view on it, and hopefully we are done discussing how this site is run and you are here to offer your two cents on United. 🙂

  16. @Grognard: I respect the fact some think we need to buy players and I wouldn’t argue much differently, but United is in millions of pounds worth of debt and I think Fergie has kept that in mind and he’s been sensible.

    He’s taken more of a Wenger style approach. Obertan was a steal and as well as being one for the future, I think he can contribute to our team considerably this season. Owen was a clever signing and the fact that he was free only makes it better. Valencia, well the jury’s still out on him, but like many people have said, he has all the attributes of a good player, strength, pace, attacking and defensive intelligence. His delivery is getting better and he should boss the lesser teams in no time. I’m not going to entertain the thought of him ever replacing Ronaldo, but he’s part of a new look United team, one that (when they play well) function as more of a team unit than when Ronaldo ran riot with his free-flowing attacking minded play.

    Somebody said before that we need more aerial prowess in the box and they’re right in saying so. Carlton Cole is an interesting one and I’ve contemplated him at United before, but he’s another one we’re yet to see reach their potential. He certainly has the ability but could he ever really be a United player?

    I think January probably will hold some excitement for us United fans, but we have to remember that this isn’t fantasy football. Villa would be good, but still not the biggest or the strongest and Fergie definitely won’t break the bank to acquire his services. So all you Villa fans will have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that Chelsea don’t have their transfer embargo lifted – I’m sure a lot of the world’s strikers would love to play along side Didier Dogpaws.

  17. @Atomic: Berbs did get hurt on Saturday. From ManUtd.com: “Dimitar Berbatov is a doubt after suffering a kick on the knee-cap in United’s weekend win.”

  18. @Grognard: No doubt the people you mentioned can take freekicks and if/when Hargo comes back he can take some great ones.

    It is just that right now we seem to be hardly threatening. Ando, Rooney and Nani should be made to stay after training and just work on them – maybe Valencia as well (I remember one he took for Wigan that was a rocket if not mistaken). It’s not just our direct freekicks especially when Giggs isn’t around, we seem to have no aerial threat and play a lot of short corners. The players can’t suddenly grow a few inches but, it is one part of our game that suffers the most right now with the departure of Ronaldo and that Vida hasn’t been as lethal in the box, we can’t seem to put pressure on other teams when they concede freekicks in their half.

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