Manchester United v Reading – Match Preview

Old Trafford

Amid all the outrage of Reading’s decision to sack Brian McDermott the enduring figure of Sir Alex Ferguson continues to act as the benchmark for every manager in the game. Both in terms of longevity and success. Bringing the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford remains Ferguson’s key objective especially after United were eliminated from the Champions League. With a healthy 12-point lead over rivals Manchester City, that could rise to 15 if they lose at Everton, it already looks a forgone conclusion but the 71-year-old won’t take anything for granted after what happened last season. Most will view the visit of managerless Reading as a sure, fire banker but Ferguson knows better and will be expecting a backlash from the Berkshire side.

The Royals were left shellshocked after McDermott, who guided them back to the top-flight, was dismissed after a 2-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa last week. The club’s Russian owner Anton Zingarevich has been criticised for his decision and rightly so. Given their precarious position in the table instigating a managerial change so late in the season effectively gives Reading little chance of avoiding the trapdoor and a return to the Championship looks inevitable. Five consecutive defeats in league and cup strengthens that assertion and the players need to draw upon the fighting spirit instilled by McDermott if they’re to perform a miracle and survive. Not just in terms of relegation but the trip to Old Trafford!

Team News

Phil Jones and Paul Scholes are unavailable for Manchester United as is Phil Jones due to a hamstring injury.

Reading will have to do without Adam Federici and Jimmy Kebe, while Pavel Pogrebnyak serves the last of a three game suspension.

What the managers said…

“The timing is surprising. If a new manager comes along, they can’t buy anyone. What he has got he has got. If they had done it in December or January maybe I would have understood it because it would have given a new manager time to bring players in during the window. He spent something like £1.2million and £7.4million has come in, so financially he has been successful,” added Ferguson. He also got them promoted to the Premier League. I don’t know what more you can do. He was manager of the month in January – I hope I am not manager of the month this month.” Sir Alex Ferguson admits he is perplexed by Brian McDermott’s sacking (ITV)

“Brian is a great friend of mine, I have spoken to him every day. He’s just a great man. Training will be good today but at the begging of the week the players were on the floor. They respected Brian and to me that’s just a natural, human emotion. The next natural thing is to be professional, try and get a result on Saturday and stay in this league. We’ve done what we’ve always done at Reading and what Brian and Nigel Gibbs used to do, and that’s work hard. They are a great group of players and they realise the importance of being in the Barclays Premier League next season.” Reading caretaker Eamonn Dolan says the players were ‘on the floor’ at the start of this week (Reading Chronicle)

Pre-Match Statistic: A 2-1 win in the FA Cup in January 1927 ranks as Readings’s only success against Manchester United in all competitions.

Prediction: Manchester United 5-0 Reading

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