Time for Man United to fire the season up
Looking at the Champions League performance by English teams and Manchester United in particular, I think they were more than shocking and worse than disappointing. It’s a bit worrying when you watch Chelsea and Arsenal play with such fluency when Man United have not really hit a high note.
It leaves you wondering, what it is you need to get the season firing? I am sure Man United supporters will be getting worried. With all due respect, Rangers are not tough opposition and United should have done far better than they did. Couple that with the fact that they threw away a two-goal advantage against Everton and you will understand why many will be getting concerned at this stage.
Some people might say the manager underestimated Rangers in his squad selection but, in reality, you have to rotate your squad and give other players a chance when the opportunity arises. Players like Gibson have to play, otherwise they will want to leave. So you pick certain matches based on the quality of the opposition to give your fringe players a chance. When Chelsea play their fringe players, you expect them to win and they do.
There was talk of Berbatov not playing and Alex Ferguson admitted he should have perhaps started with him, but you have to rest him whenever you can. There’s a big match coming up on Sunday and you need all your best players for that match.
It’s early days in the Champions League but United have to get stronger and put these few disappointing performances behind them. It has been un-Man United I must say.
If you look at Arsenal against Braga, they were simply outstanding; they were top class on the night. However, I have seen them play like that in the past play and still end up not winning the league. Perhaps this is because they have had tougher competition to contend with in the league. For me the question is, is this the season for Arsenal and are they going to toughen up and be physically and mentally strong to win some silverware?
With injuries to most of the players, there will always be a debate about the competitiveness of the game. Some people feel the players are more robust these days but I disagree because what we see today is nothing compared to what we experienced about 20 years ago.
Valencia’s injury is no doubt a big blow for United because we don’t have the squad like we did two years ago when you could look up to Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo -- the kind of players who would instill fear in the opposition. Now we do not have the same attacking force because even if you attack with Rooney and Berbatov, Giggs does not have the pace as he did and Nani plays one in three games.
Sunday's match is a big one; a big one for Liverpool but not for Man United. We get excited when we play teams in the top four and Liverpool are not in the top four! No matter where Liverpool are on the log, this fixture always has some emotions to it because of the rivalry that has been there for decades. If there’s any game that we want to win more than any other, it’s probably the game against Liverpool.
They are not a bad side, despite the fact they are struggling to find form like us. It’s an important game for both teams as neither can afford to drop any more points now. We have to win and if we win, well that will give us some confidence moving forward.
The rivalry between these two goes back a long way, from the 1890s or so. I have played in many matches against Liverpool, in the FA Cup and the league. We did well against them in the FA Cup, where we beat them in the 1979 and 1985 semifinals. However, in the league they always gave us problems as they had great players like Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, John Barnes and many others.
So I am really looking forward to this one and you are more than welcome to share your memories of this great fixture and many other football issues.