Four games to go and within it three visits to Lancashire including two in Manchester. It could be easier but after last weeks premier league games the team should have no confidence doubts whatsoever.
But this is Old Trafford. As we know to our cost the ball has to hit the back of the net to guarantee a goal and during the second of the two games I’ve attended there we were denied two penalties in minutes before Nani smashed home a wonder goal to win the game.
That match was Bale’s debut for the club and he was an instant hit with those present playing left midfield. Will it be the same tomorrow or will Gary Neville play a dangerous game and keep him on the turf?
As with every game played this season it is important for both sides and with 6 points already in the bag Harry is already beyond his expectation of 5 and we can therefore “give it a go”. This may not be the correct approach and I fear a beating as United press to catch Chelsea for the title. What we need is the same commitment of last week particularly in the middle of the park to allow us to win and then try and keep the ball.
Both Modric and Huddlestone have been a revelation in their central roles against Arsenal and Chelsea and more of the same is required tomorrow. Whilst Palacios is back I would be inclined to change nothing and put him on the bench so that they are forced to continue. With Wilson in both feel happy to let him take on the tackling role rather than contribute in that manner. If he is on the bench they have to and it will do them good to realise that it is every game not just a selected few.
In the same way If Lennon is available I would also put him on the bench as Bentley played a brilliant tactical game last Saturday in his defensive duties which has not always been his forte and therefore deserves to continue for his excellent crossing abilities. If Lennon is also on the bench Evra will be concerned as to when the change is going to come as we all know he loves playing against Aaron. If Harry decided to play Lennon I would hope to see Bentley switched to the left and Bale drop back to left back.
I am hopeful Ledley King will be available after missing out on the Chelsea game, though Bassong did not put a foot wrong, to partner Dawson and if Corluka is still out Kaboul has grown at right back in the last two games. Most at risk might be Ekotto but he and Bale have developed a good understanding in the last few games so no problems there if they continue.
Up front presents the most difficult problems. Pav has been quoted as saying we should have beat Chelsea 6-1 and that might well be true. I certainly said it was possible. But I wasn’t on the pitch missing two sitters – Pav was. Tomorrow we’ve got to put the chances away. Without Ronaldo United are not the same team but they are capable and we need to take chances given. Cech made some decent saves last week but earlier in the season Defoe would undoubtedly have scored the one on one chance now he looks a little indecisive. Whether the News of the World was playing on his mind I don’t know but he cannot be wasteful tomorrow.
Crouch apparently had a bronchial complaint which restricted him last week and he might be useful for his height and ability to compete for headers if it gets tough for us as United will be making Gomes kick out as it is a possession winner every time for them if Pav and Defoe start. It does seem ludicrous that the left back plays in midfield is currently the greatest provider the only one capable of winning headers and in the last two games has scored important goals but there you go. We might have sold him last August!
Team selection: Gomes, Kaboul, Dawson, King, Ekotto, Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale, Pav, Defoe.
Prediction: 2-2 draw though I keep getting flash backs of Ossie’s curler into the top corner when Joe Jordan pulverised the goalie and Roberts or Hoddle went in goal. There must be a victory for us one year why not this one!