Manchester United can beat Milan / Mourinho’s rants but is clearly wrong

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If Saturday was bad, Sunday was the pick-me-up Manchester United needed.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the double, 8 United players are in the PFA team of the year and yes, Chelsea didn’t – couldn’t – get past Titus Bramble (which probably rankles them more than anything else).

And then there are transfer rumours linking us to Berbatov and Tevez, there’s Jose Mourinho bitching and bitching and BITCHING about the ‘penalty’ and there’s a short preview to the big game tomorrow night.

News Headlines

  1. I’ve written about the PFA awards in detail here, so go read that. You can also pick your team of the season there, so please go ahead and contribute.
  2. Rafa Benitez tells NOTW (good for him) that Maldini can stop Ronaldo. He says that he has spoken to Ferguson about it as well. I fancy Ronaldo’s chances against Maldini – what about you?
  3. Richard Williams of the Guardian gives us an inside look at Milan’s training facility and their methods.
  4. And Manchester United have sent match stewards to Milan in an effort to cooperate with local authorities to prevent any violent incidents in their return leg (due to be played on May 2nd). Smart move, hopefully we can avoid the mess we’ve had the last two times Manchester United played away in Europe.
  5. Eric Cantona chimes and says what everyone has been saying – that Manchester United and Alex Ferguson have done a great job at supporting Cristiano Ronaldo after the World Cup. He compares it with his own ban, and that’s about it. He could’ve said something more interesting, like how Ferguson messed up with Rio against Boro, but no, he had to go and say something boring…

    Update: Ok, so maybe he did say something interesting. He’s recommending Roy Keane to take over from Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United vs Milan

We play Milan tomorrow at Old Trafford, without Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville or Nemanja Vidic. Craig Cathcart is injured, and Mikael Silvestre, a player United fans dislike but would beg to have right now, is out for the season. Manchester United are left with John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Gabriel Heinze and Patrice Evra – 1 right-back and 3 left backs. To be fair, O’Shea can play all across the defence, Evra can slot in on both flanks and Heinze is a decent central defender.

In backup, we have Darren Fletcher – even our token backup left back, Kieran Richardson, is injured.

In other words, we have a problem. Recalling defenders is out of the question (Simpson and Evans cant play again for any other club this season) and I’m not sure that Pique’s deal allows for a recall. If it does, it’s hard to bring in a player from another league and ask them to slot right in – I’m hoping that Ferguson does it, but he’s probably going to rely on the players he has now.

Saha’s not coming back for Milan, so we’re probably going to see Smith and Rooney start together, with the usual Ronaldo-Giggs-Scholes-Carrick quarter in the middle. Evra ‘should’ slot in at left-back and O’Shea at right, although if Evra is not fit or on the bench we’ll see O’Shea and Brown in the middle, Heinze on the left and Fletcher on the right.

Ordinarily you’d say that this back four isn’t good enough, but look at how well Manchester United has done all season – the players’ self-confidence is very high and at this point all Ferguson needs to do is to let his players know that he trusts them to get the job done at Old Trafford tomorrow night and at the San Siro 9 days from now. It’s a big ask, but they can do it.

It would be interesting if we had ‘another’ injury situation, but I think Rooney, Smith or Carrick could slot into defence if necessary. It’s not as bad as you guys think or as the media makes out. Manchester United will get through this 🙂

You can read my initial review of the game and the main conversation thread for the United-Milan game here.

Tomorrow I’ll do a more detailed preview of the game, so for now let’s just keep our fingers crossed that no one else gets injured before the game.

Transfer Rumours

We’re linked with Berbatov and Tevez in the media – now that Torres has come out and said that he’s not leaving Atletico Madrid, there’s less of that nonsense (thankfully). I’d like to see Berbatov replace Saha, but at 20m he’s too expensive plus we’re already working on bringing Hargreaves and a winger in.

Jose Mourinho and that penalty

As I said yesterday, complaining about that penalty is silly – the ref was far away, there was a doubt, the ball changed its trajectory slightly, the Dong-Gook Lee ran into O’Shea looking for the penalty and anyway, if you see the first angle you’ll notice that O’Shea did get a touch on the ball.

But even from the ref’s perspective, that wasn’t a penalty because there’s too much doubt there. It’s a shame to see United fans accept the media bull about it being a ‘strong penalty claim’ – see the fracking video for yourself.

Here’s the corresponding article, covering the penalty incident and Mourinho’s rant.

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