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Preview: Portsmouth v Man Utd

It’s bank holiday Monday as United travel to Fratton Park in what has proven to be a tricky encounter in recent times. Last season Paul Scholes’ opener was cancelled out by Benjani’s equaliser giving us a 1-1 draw. It was one of the wretched few games that kick started, what turned out to be, a rather famous season.

We must consider our chances of getting a result this time better. We have Rooney partnering Tevez this time which is always better than what we had against Newcastle. But more importantly, we are facing an abject looking Portsmouth team.

Of course, I do realise that I may have tempted fate by calling Pompey abject. David James might suddenly become as good as Casillas or Buffon and so, like the cliche goes, an early goal will surely help settle the nerves.

In team news, Owen Hargreaves, Park Ji-Sung are still in training while Nani is still smarting from the consequences of his bird brained head butt against West Ham last season. I wouldn’t know Louis Saha’s injury situation, so it would be a bonus if he ever featured on the bench. Carrick and Giggs are out after picking up injuries last week.

We seem short of options on the wing. So it would be really interesting to see who Fergie decides to play on the wing. Whilst it might be tempting for the gaffer to persist with Fletcher on the right like last week — although he doesn’t offer much over there — I’d hope he plays him in the middle of the park instead, alongside Scholes. I am sure a lot of people may be clamouring for the inclusion of Rodrigo Possebon in the middle, but plunging him into the deep end against a very physical midfield, away from home — when we are already doing a bit of catching up — would not necessarily be a wise thing to do. We have Anderson returning, so we could see him making the bench if he’s in the frame of mind. I suspect one of the Brazilian twins will be played on the wings. Raphael might start on the right. I honestly don’t know who’ll play on the left so we may as well throw Fabio in to the mix. The defence seems settled, but there is a chance Gary Neville might earn his first start of the season.

In some positives to take, going into today’s game, Chelsea returned to their usual disjointed snore fest style of football against a willing Wigan side. They got the result they wanted nonetheless, but it also shows the kind of team Pompey were last week. It’s just a thought — not something I’d want to read too much into as the season’s just gotten underway. Winning today could propel us into third spot behind Chelsea and (oh-my-God!) Liverpool.

Prediction: 2-1 to United.

* * *

Customary Berbatov Update:
Nothing for certain yet, but it looks more and more likely that Berbatov is not in people’s good books at Spurs. And I can understand Spurs fans feelings with the way Berba’s treated them. For all Ronaldo’s faults I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be throwing the sort of tantrums Berba seems to be throwing at White Hart Lane. We’ve had parallels, in the cases of Gareth Barry and Adebayor, already this summer, but Berbatov still looks the most likely of the three to actually move.

I would be surprised if he stayed in Spurs beyond August 31.



  1. Craig Mc

    25 August 2008 at 23:20

    I thought Possebon can be quite a lazy player when he loses the ball, from watching his performances in the reserves. Yet on one occasion tonight, I was impressed because he lost the ball in MF by giving a stray pass, but then he charged all the way back to retrieve the ball he had given away, and that right on pompey’s edge of box. I he does more of that, then yes he could be okay. But I don’t consider him to be a player with fire and passion yet. Perhaps more first team opportunities might develop that. Usually though, players have already got this or they haven’t, and I can see it in some of our other reserve players, especially Rafeal DS.

  2. Rd

    25 August 2008 at 23:26

    @Craig Mc: I think most people are just worried, that if in a few years, another club lets say Madrid come calling, we’ll go through the same thing Spurs are going through right now or if he doesn’t start too much games(which i doubt), he’ll go on a sulking spree(mind you I’m not one of those people), either that or they(like me), just really want Huntelaar instead. :mrgreen:

  3. Nico QB

    25 August 2008 at 23:35

    Anyone also think that Fletch tends to drift out of games once he’s scored? Last week he ended up being anonymous after scoring and I got the same impression today.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love his wllingness to go forward and his goals to minutes played ratio (including last season) must be high, especially compared to someone like Anderson or Carrick, but I still think that had he not scored today I would be tempted to rate him around 6.5.
    I’m sure his overall play can be more rounded, but then he does play better at CM.

    Now just a thought:

    I’ve stated several times no that Rodrigo is my pet favorite, but what would be your favrite CM partneship? I wouldn’t mind a bit more of Scholes/ Possebon and trying out a partnetrship of Anderson/ Possebon.
    Hargreaves for me this seaso is going to be switched occasionally from DM to RM.

    How does this look?
    Brown Rio Vida Evra
    Hargo Scholes Possebon Nani
    Berbatov Rooney(Tevez)

    +Ronaldo switched around as RM/ RF/ LM

  4. johnsom33

    25 August 2008 at 23:38

    I thought tevez was played better than Rooney today. I felt Rooney was banished to the Pompey 3rd, and didn’t really get a chance to be more involved in the game. Just my opinion.

  5. Craig Mc

    25 August 2008 at 23:39

    JB, but Berba isn’t like Ronnie situation though. When United went in for him beginning last season, spurs refused him to come, but promised if he gave spurs a commited season, he would be allowed to leave this season if United came in for him again. Now that came from the mouth of Martin Jol, so I tend to believe it’s true. I would be miffed if spurs went back on a promise to me if I was Berba. Jb I am afraid that I am not one of those who demand undying loyalty from players anymore. I feel that if Ronnie really doesn’t want to play for us we should allow him to go. So obviously I feel the same for Berba. Although I was with Fergie on his stance over Real M tactics. That was a hard one. Anyway, spurs have come out and said that Berba didn’t refuse to play for them, but Ramos made the decision because his heart is with Man Utd, and his head was not right. I wouldn’t like to think Ronnie was staying with us, and he is utterly miserable. That doesn’t seem right to me either.

  6. Craig Mc

    25 August 2008 at 23:44

    RD, we know that Berba can play in the premier league though. We know he can score goals, and he can definately make goals for others. He is class, and he can entertain. He is my kind of player.

  7. Nick

    26 August 2008 at 00:00

    As for CM partnerships? In our League Cup games i’d love to see a central midfield of Possebon and Anderson with a defensive midfielder behind them to allow them to express themselves.

    As for the Liverpool and Chelsea games, i am hoping Rooney gets a few goals during the International matches to put him into scoring form. Right at this moment, with the amount of players we’re missing i’d quite happily see us draw both games. I’d love 4 points out of the possible 6, but i think to ask United to win both games could be difficult.

    fingers crossed though

  8. Liam

    26 August 2008 at 00:16

    dunno, I don’t watch reserve games so the only times I’ve seen Possebon is in pre-season and the first few games and he hasn’t impressed me enough to warrant moving up in the CM ranks. He looks calm and collected on the ball but he seems to panic sometimes. I have been converted in the last season from a Fletcher hater to a Fletcher lover. He has produced some scholes-esque performances and has just completely changed my opinion of him.

  9. Will

    26 August 2008 at 00:20

    someone give that ref a yellow card… or at least a free pass to specsavers.. what in gods name was wrong with the goal rooney got chalked out!? it was onside in my book and everyone elses who saw it.. what a numpty.. that said two out of two for fletch… before you know it he’ll have scored 43 and real with be in a royal rush to sign him for 100mill!

    ronaldo who.

    personally if fletch keeps up this performance then i don’t want him to be dropped as soon as ronaldo gets fit. i mean it would be good to show him that he isn’t numero uno. well played tonight lads. rooney well should of had a goal!

  10. Liam

    26 August 2008 at 00:21

    btw I’m just watching major league lacrosse on Setanta. Is this really what I paid for? I would love it if they got NBA though as nobody seems to have it since Sky stopped showing it

  11. Liam

    26 August 2008 at 00:34

    they’re not showing the offside goal on SS. Probably trying to respect the linesman 🙄

  12. tevez

    26 August 2008 at 00:39

    Well ronaldo is numero uno really and i certainly hope fletcher is dropped when he gets back. He will be, ofcourse. Fletcher is doing his part right now but all i can really compliment him on is his energy levels and his courage to get in the box. Apart from that he is an extremely limited player. He offers nothing creatively so it’s important for him that he contributes with tireless running and hopefully more goals. He wasn’t really in sync with united’s tidy, fluent passing moves, more than anything he stifled them.

  13. AlexOfMancunia

    26 August 2008 at 00:56

    Liam, don’t get me started on the Respect thing! I play Rugby Union, so I fully appreciate that refs should be given respect, but Rugby refs earn that respect by being good at their jobs! The refs and linesmen in the Prem these days are shite, and make at least one goal affecting mistake (by that I mean giving/not giving a pen, disallowing a legit goal or allowing one that shouldn’t have stood), which makes it hard for players (especially the ones who play for the teams like us who have enormous pressure on them to win every game) to keep their cool.

    Respect is earned.

    Anyway, I don’t think we’d ever see Berbatov wanting to leave unless we didn’t get Champions League football, as that is why he wants to move to us really (he also quite fancies the club). I think that the Ronaldo situation is different, as:

    a) Berbatov was made a promise that they’d let him go to us if he stayed a season, but Levy is fucking it up for him just because of money, and not signing a replacement.

    b) Ronaldo’s mum has long dreamt of him playing for Real, which will have transferred to him, however he obviously wasn’t as desperate to as Berbatov is, as Calderon gave him the chance to kick up a fuss when he practically asked him to hand in a transfer request through his comments of “We will act when Ronaldo says he wants to leave (kicks up a fuss) and United say they want to sell (have no choice but to sell him because he refuses to play)”, but Ronaldo wasn’t prepared to, and was convinced to stay by Fergie after one coversation.

    I’m all for Berbatov coming, he’s not exactly going to be sulking if he achieves the move he’s longed for for 2 summers now.

  14. Nico QB

    26 August 2008 at 01:28

    @Liam: Liam, despite scoring two out of two, Fletch’s performances have been quite anonymous for these two games, by that I mean that he didnt do much except for scoring the goals.
    Nonetheless, I’ve always been a supporter of Fletch because I know that he’s always got goals in him and is a big match performer. Trust Ronaldo to screw up against AC Milan, but trust Fletch to produce MOTM performances against tough opposition.
    A midfield’s perfromance should be judged by how much he gets involved in moves, and trust me Possebon, everytime he plays gets involved. He looks the kind of player that looks to provide solutions for his teammates, just like Keane was, and just doesn’t look the kind of player that drifts out of games.
    On the other hand this particular aspect is one of the major flaws in Fletcher’s game.
    Oh well, I guess we are spoilt for choice in midfield. I just wonder what it’ll be like when everybody’s fit…

  15. Gabriel

    26 August 2008 at 01:29

    Good match today, decent performances from the lads, but did anyone notice how we began to tire during the second half?. That was weird for this early in the season!. Maybe it’s those useless midweek internationals, I mean, what’s the point?. ❓

    Fergie is so predictable, I knew he would play O’shea in DMF, but Ando was a surprise (and not a good one, as it was evident from his performance that he wasn’t a 100%). The rest of the formation was expected and I actually now understand Fergie’s reason for playin O’shea; cuz evra and brown were expected to bombard up and down the wings(which they did excellently) and O’shea was to provide extra cover for Rio and Vida. He did that well, however, there is no denieng the fact that he nullifies our creativity in the middle of the park!. Hopefully, when we get our wingers back, evra and brown can cool it, then we can use a more creative/attack minded CMF!.

    Rooney played well today, glad to see he’s adapting to playing a No.9 role and staying up the pitch. Shoulda scored if not for a blind linesman (and they want respect 🙄 ). Tevez played well too, but he is developing a bad habit of lingering in our own half and dropping too deep; maybe it was cuz O’shea was a ‘minus one’ in midfield. However, he did create some chances but was always missing when rooney needed support.

    Fletch is a man on a mission!. This lad is proving to be quite effective at two positions – CMF, RMF – and could be a vital player for us this season. The defence was impeccable, Rio and Vida showing no strains panic/pressure!. Evra and Brown were among our top performers today, Fergie gave them a task of creating width and they did it without compromising the defence, perfect!.

    Scholes is just sublime, how he still produces these quality performances is beyond me!. Should try and pass the ball forward a bit more though. Rodrigo showed composure but was a bit pedestrian and in the premiership you can’t afford to be that lukewarm or else you will get caught out in possesion (like he did today); but he showed promise and can only get better.

    Excuse the mini speech, but we had a decent performance today and hopefully, we can get better with each game as we still lacked any real potency in the final third today!. Hopefully, with most of our – wide – players getting fit these coming weeks, we can sort this out and continue our winning streak!. :mrgreen:

  16. Kienu

    26 August 2008 at 02:45

    Good win….Fergie shud sign the Wigan enforcer known as Palacios! Superb player and more accomplished to combine with Anderson than O’Shea! Sign him and Berba and we are the GREATEST!


    26 August 2008 at 03:47

    Kienu, Very very very good point, Palacious would be a fantastic addition. Bruce would be nuts to give him to us though..

    Relagation would be a forgon conclusion.

    Scholes and Andy were fantastic tonight, Possebom looked good to.

    But Evra was my MOM.

    Can’t wait for the pool match

  18. Jezta

    26 August 2008 at 03:59

    @RichmondRed: Yea mate, was surprised Rooney was spending time up there a lot, shame Tevez left Rooney dangling there alone sometimes.

  19. micheal

    26 August 2008 at 04:33

    Is it me or the thought of berbertov joining united would be just horrible, I mean let’s get this straight his attitude just stinks worse then fat bastards ass he mopes around the pitch when things go against him and he will not fit into United’s style of play. 30 million for a 30 year old no thank you and he does what rooney and tevez like to do play behind the front man. Let’s hope to god he does not arrive good on spurs stand your ground just as united done with ronaldo. united should be looking for the most physical and more powerful front man like a drogba or etoo, we already have one problem in ronaldo we don’t want another one. united should be looking to be buying another winger is well as cover for ronaldo and nani and a powerful frontman manucho could be that problem solver.

  20. Drew Vader

    26 August 2008 at 04:58

    what a difference Tevez and Andersonsonson make huh?? a very entertaining match to watch, I loved every second of it.

    And respect to O’Shea, he wasn’t brilliant by any means, but he did his job well.

    Man of the match for me has to be Evra. Why dont we have a song for him? He deserves some love

  21. R...

    26 August 2008 at 05:36

    @micheal: Yes its only you. Berbatov will be excellent for us, bet he would do a great job till 32, 33 that’s 5 years! His game is not built on speed or the physical side but he is sheer class all around.
    Are you by any chance reading too much of spurs boards these days?

  22. Kal

    26 August 2008 at 05:36

    Levy is apparently taking a leaf out of the Glazers’ book when it comes to want away players” rel=”nofollow”>

  23. Tomas

    26 August 2008 at 07:29

    @Craig Mc: No, nobody was offside. The linesman simply flaged him wrongly. He was onside by at least a yard.

  24. RedDevil

    26 August 2008 at 08:01

    SkySports think Andy was MOTM. Yey 😛

  25. micheal

    26 August 2008 at 14:42

    I am a united fan who knows bebertov is vastly overated, the sooner yu lot realise he is overhyped the better. why didnt united sign torres in the first place.

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