Good morning folks.
Manchester United play Middlesbrough today and we have Ferguson’s press conference from yesterday to talk about as well.
1. Ferguson’s friday press conference
Ferguson’s press conference yesterday had some interesting notes in it, top the list being these comments on Saha:
“We feel he’s back, it’s just the confidence to make sure he feels right. Louis in his own mind has got to feel 100 percent fit.
He just felt his hamstring a bit after the game against Roma over there when he came on as a substitute. In training the next day he felt it a little bit. I think there’s a cautious approach, that he wants to feel 100 percent fit.”
As I said yesterday, I think Saha should be embarrassed by this and should get out there and make sure that he’s mentally 100% for the Milan game and the end of the season.
Ferguson also gave us an injury update – long story short, Vidic starts training on Monday (which is no guarantee for him playing in May, mind you, but that’s the earliest we can expect him to be back), Rio, O’Shea and Evra are back for today’s game and Neville could be ready for next weekend’s game against Everton.
Ji-Sung Park is still out though, and no ideas on his return:
“We’ll make a decision on Ji-sung Park next week. We’ve seen the specialist and hopefully we can get an opinion on what the next stage should be.”
Mostly, everything we had learned yesterday, apart from the bit on Park. It seems that his knee problem is worse than expected, just like Saha’s hamstring.
If Ferguson was ‘cautious’ in his words on Saha, he was full of praise for Alan Smith:
“He has been absolutely unbelievable. His form in the last three games has been outstanding.
He has brought a freshness and an infectious enthusiasm which is spreading throughout the team.
When you think of what he has been through, how he has handled it and the way he is approaching his football, he has been first class.
I cannot speak more highly of him than that.”
Ferguson also had the usual stuff about players enjoying the challenge (you can read about that here) and said that he’d be happy for United to win just the Premiership:
“You start the season hoping to win a major trophy. We could win one of them, with an immense amount of luck we could win three. But if we win the league I’d be quite happy with that.
Any time I’ve done well, we’ve always had a bit of luck. The luck we need now is to keep this group fit for the rest of the season, if we do that we have a real big chance.
I know Jose was praying we get injuries and we got them, so we’ve done him a real favour that way. Hopefully there’s no more.”
I think that the Champions League semifinal is a bit ‘lucky’ as well in the sense that we got two relatively easy draws in Lille and Roma. Anyway, the Prem is the most important goal here, so yea, the Prem is good enough, but having come so far in the Champions League it would be a disappointment not to be playing at Athens and if you’re playing at Wembley and Athens, you might as well win them…
2. Manchester United vs Middlesbrough
Manchester United and Middlesbrough have squared up thrice this season, once in the league and twice in the FA Cup quarter final (the second being a replay). United have the upper hand so far and considering that a) Manchester United are in cracking form and b) the game’s at Old Trafford there’s is little else to do but wait for the first and second Manchester United goals and then wait for Milan.
Recent form points to United’s way as well.
Manchester United have won their last 3 games with an impressive aggregate of 13-2.
Middlesbrough, on the other hand, have failed to win 5 of their last 6 Prem games and have only 1 win from their last 8 games. They also haven’t scored in the last four away games.
There’s no need for over-confidence, but Manchester United are – and should be – good enough to dispose of Middlesbrough.
Possible Manchester United lineup: van der Sar, John O’Shea, Brown, Ferdinand, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Smith.
Soccerlens prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Middlesbrough.
3. Other Stuff
Carrick is the toast of the town after his goal-scoring exploits and yesterday he talked to Manchester United Radio about Boro and the usual spin about the rest of the season.
Lindsay Frankel has an excellent account of being a Manchester United fan living in London. He’s writing in the ManUtd.com fan blog, which you should definitely take a look at.
Can someone please tell me where the fuck UnitedRant is? Not that I mind (more fun for me) but I quite enjoyed putting down their blinkered views 🙂
Wayne Rooney got picked as the ‘face’ of the Coca Cola Street Striker competition (it pains me to write this, believe me) and it’s a good turn around from being dumped by schools for his “swearing, uncouth lad” image from last year. The Sun has more.
Gareth Southgate is still going on about ‘dem penalties’. Let’s hope Manchester United win 10-1 after Middlesbrough win after a Boateng dive and penalty in the first minute.
Karma aint that good, so I’ll take the 2-1 win after that penalty 🙂
4. The case of Julio Arca and his teammate’s urine
Julio Arca and Stewart Downing are just two Middlesbrough players who are praising Ronaldo instead of calling him dirty names, but while Downing is just trying to get some press for voting for Ronaldo, Julio Arca is about to be famous for a whole new reason.
Here’s what the ManUtd.com piece covering Arca’s comments says at the very end:
Read more from Arca, including the tale of how a team-mate’s urine came to his rescue, in Saturday’s United Review. The match programme is available at OT or via subscription.
If anyone is going to watch the game at Old Trafford today, get hold of that story and let me know, ok? 🙂
That’s it for today – will put up the game videos tonight and a review in tomorrow’s roundup.