Mon, Aug 26th 2013
Just two games into our season and already we hit one of the biggest fixtures of the campaign.
A lot has been made of our lack of spending this summer whilst most of our rivals have been spending money like it’s going out of fashion.
Yesterday’s Cardiff v Man City result should act as a sharp reminder to everyone that spending money does not always lead to instant results.
I do feel that one of our key strengths this season is that the squad is largely unchanged and, given that we won the Premier League last season, is clearly not in bad shape.
With the arrival of Zaha, we have in fact strengthened but his signing seems to get forgotten as it happened last season.
So far in his team selections, Moyes hasn’t really done much different to what I suspect Fergie would have done but I do think that Moyes has to be a little more adventurous this evening.
So far, Giggs has played a key role but I really don’t think that this is a game for his 39 year old legs – Fergie pitted Giggs against Chelsea last season and it was a bit of a disaster.
It is matches such as this one where Moyes really has to earn his corn and it is matches such as this one which will define his reign.
As expected, Mourinho has been making a lot of noise, attempting to get under everyone’s skin. It’s clear that he sees himself as very much a twelfth man but I would like to think that we have players who are old enough and experienced enough to realise that the most important place to do your talking is out there on the pitch.
For ninety minutes this evening, anything Mourinho has said before or will say afterwards is irrelevant.
One thing I think most United fans will be looking for is what role, if any, Rooney plays this evening. Mourinho has done everything in his power to unsettle Wayne and the club in general. The bids so far put forward weren’t serious bids because they were far too low for a player of Rooney’s calibre. They were designed purely and simply to gain an edge leading up to this match.
If Mourinho is serious about signing Rooney then we can expect the proper bid in the morning.
As I said the other day, though, Moyes now has a decision to make regarding Rooney. I’m almost certain that he would have had a heart to heart with the player by now and will be fairly certain in his mind about Rooney’s future.
If Rooney starts tonight then I’d say that it is certain that he will still be here after the window closes. If Rooney doesn’t start then I’d say that the likelihood is that he’s leaving.
As for Chelsea, well, they have made hard work of their first two games – a 2-0 against newly promoted Hull and a somewhat controversial 2-1 against last season’s strugglers Aston Villa (both fixtures at Stamford Bridge) have been fairly unconvincing.
They will, of course, step it up for this game tonight and it will almost certainly be one of the toughest matches of the season for us but it will be the same for them.
I expect a cagey affair – Mourinho will be happy to leave with a 0-0, or 1-1 and even happier if his side can snatch a 1-0 victory but for a variety of reasons beyond the obvious, neither team or manager will want to be the loser here tonight.
The bookies seem to think that this will be a fairly high scoring game and it could well be (we have certainly had a couple of goal fests against Chelsea in recent years) but it really could go either way.
In fact, the whole thing is difficult to call – cases can be made for almost any scenario.
I think I’ll sit on the fence a bit for this one.
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