Today’s game is yet another ‘biggest derby ever’ in a growing list of must-win Man City clashes for United.
Last season every derby game was treated with the same hype, although this time round there is a little bit more substance to all the hysteria. City are top of the league, United haven’t dropped points at home in over a season and should City do the unthinkable and take all three on offer, then the title race would definitely swing in their favour. It wouldn’t be just the five points that United had to make up, it would be the psychological boost that an Old Trafford win would give City, the players, manager and fans.
Let’s face facts though, titles aren’t won in October and we’ve seen United turn around much bigger deficit in a much shorter period of time over the years, so while a loss would hurt- especially to those of us living in Manchester, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Regardless of whether United could bounce back from a loss, or if a draw would be such a travesty, one thing’s for certain, should the Reds win tomorrow, it would give us a massive boost and remove much of the bravado from our ‘noisy neighbours.’ If the Reds are to prevail then we need all our players to be firing on all cylinders, and if we’re totally honest that hasn’t always been the case in recent weeks.
There’s a small group of players who’ve let their standards slip somewhat and who could do with regaining their early season form to help United grab a vital victory.
The Brazilian was absolutely awesome at the beginning of the season, dominating the middle of the park and galvanising those around him. Lately though his performances have flitted between anonymous and wasteful as he seems to have lost his way. Many cite the absence of Tom Cleverley alongside him as a mitigating factor and with doubts over the United youngster’s chances of making the starting line-up tomorrow, Anderson cannot use that as an excuse, he needs to regain his early season form. City’s midfield is full of quality players and Unted cannot afford any passengers.
Ferdinand’s not had the easiest last few weeks, with injuries and a bit of a shocker against Basel, before giving away a free kick -albeit harshly- that led to Liverpool’s goal at Anfield. While I don’t for one second believe that Rio is ‘past it’ there’s no denying that a lack of football and all the injuries can cause him problems. With City’s strikers all scoring freely, Ferdinand, who was rested for the trip to Romania on Tuesday, will have his work cut out and needs to be at his best.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been very impressed with the former Villa player’s performances since he arrived at Old Trafford, but can’t help feeling his last few shifts in a Red shirt haven’t been quite as effective as the first few. I know he scored against Basle but overall since – and including- the Stoke away game, he doesn’t seem to be quite at the races. Young was something of a revelation when he arrived, with stunning performance after stunning performance, he needs to rekindle that form for the biggest game of the season so far.
I know many of you will think I’ve gone in off the deep end saying Rooney needs to ‘pull his socks up’ after all he scored a brace in his last game. Let’s be honest though, going back to the Chelsea game, has he really looked the same player we saw at the start of the season? Against Norwich he was below par to say the least, while for the Galati game, he did convert his two penalties but it was hardly a vintage showing against what was very average opposition. Rooney seems to revel in the debry atmosphere- particularly at Old Trafford and we need him to show the sort of form we witnessed against the likes of Arsenal and Spurs.
Tomorrow’s game is set to be a nerve jangling affair, but if these four players are at the top of their game, I think United can send City back to Eastlands empty handed, having recieved a lesson in football. Let’s just hope I’m right.
Have I been too harsh on the aformentioned quartet? Are there other players more worthy of similar questions? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below:
Article courtesy of Justin from the excellent Red Flag Flying High
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