Manchester United vs. Norwich City Match Preview

Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United v Norwich
Manchester United thrashed Norwich City 4-0 last season with Shinji Kagawa netting a hattrick

Managerless Manchester United welcome struggling Norwich City to Old Trafford, in what is a highly important encounter for the visitors. The Canaries are only two points off the drop zone, having lost last weekend to Liverpool and to fellow strugglers Fulham a week before that. United, who will be under the guidance of interim boss Ryan Giggs, on the other hand have had yet another turbulent week, with the sacking of manager David Moyes following his disastrous ten month spell in charge, which reached a whimpering climax in the 2-0 defeat away at Everton on Sunday.

Although United won this fixture 4-0 last season on the way to the league title, however – all the talk on Saturday will be about who will be taking over at the helm come 2014/15. Will it be Louis Van Gaal? Jurgen Klopp? Or even Sir Alex Ferguson?! You can vote below.

We caught up with Gary Gowers who blogs over at ‘Norwich City My Football Writer‘. Predictably, we caught up on relegation, David Moyes and the gloriously named Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

1) What did you make of the Chris Hughton sacking? Was it the right decision and what do you make of the decision to appoint Adams?
I stood by Hughton for three-quarters of the season – longer than most – but by the end of February it became clear that, while he could muster up some decent home results, road trips were becoming a nightmare. Defeat followed defeat and performance levels were heading southwards. In the end the board felt they had to either act or watch us sleepwalk to the Championship. While everyone outside the Canary nation poured scorn on the decision, few who watched City week in week out contested the decision – and that says it all.

The decision to appoint Adams seemed logical enough. It was only ever intended as a short-term fix – one that would hopefully give us the impetus to limp over the line to safety – and Adams tactical nous is well-respected in these parts.

2) The Fulham result was a blow – will you go down? Either way – who do you think will be relegated?
Now there’s a question. Armed with no logic whatsoever I remain hopeful we can muster another three or four points and preserve our Premier League status, which would likely mean Cardiff, Fulham and Sunderland will be the chosen three. I won’t be putting my money where my mouth is however!

3) Do you think Hughton would have got it right eventually? Also, it’s an odd time to sack someone when fighting relegation, isn’t it?I personally don’t think he would have. As mentioned in the first answer we couldn’t win an away game to save our lives and once the home form faltered his time was sadly up. Of course Adams was a gamble – and a late one – but one worth taking.

4) Speaking if sackings, what do you make of Moyes disastrous ten months and the decision to sack him?
Inevitable I guess, although to give him a six year contract to ‘build something’ and then fire him because he didn’t achieve it in nine months seems odd. Funnily enough it was met with no derision whatsoever, unlike our decision to part company with Hughton. Differing expectations I guess.

5) Who was to blame for the poor season; Moyes? Players? Ferguson effect? Combination?
I suspect a combination of all three. The Fergie factor meant Moyes faced an almost impossible task, and it seems clear the players didn’t warm to his methods. Even so I imagine one or two need to take a long hard look at themselves. It feels a little a if they had a ‘here are my medals, what have you won…’ attitude, which ultimately was his undoing.

6) Who do you think will replace Moyes at the helm? Also, will Adams be there long term? Who would you like to see in the Carrow Road hot seat?
I expect Adams’ reign at City to be two games longer than Giggs’. Rumour has it the City board already have plans afoot although clearly the division in which we play our football next season will have a major bearing. Adams will, I think, continue his work with the first-team, but possibly in a coaching capacity. In terms of who I’d like to see… good question. Someone with a reputation for playing with flair would be nice: McNally (City’s CEO) may take us down the continental route.

In terms of United: I reckon the job is Van Gaal’s if he wants it.

7) Who has been you best player this season? And the worst?
Our best player has been Martin Olsson – a summer signing from Blackburn – although Jonny Howson has also been superb in the face of considerable adversity. At the other end of the spectrum, Ricky van Wolfswinkel has contributed just one goal for his £8.5 million transfer fee. His confidence in front of goal is on the floor and he’s now in cow’s arse and banjo territory.

8) How do you expect to line up on Saturday? What is your prediction ahead of the game?
Adams started with a midfield diamond against Liverpool but quickly learnt that diamonds in the PL rarely work. I therefore expect a 4-5-1 of sorts, but one that will look to get numbers forward to support Gary Hooper when we attack.

Contrary to the popular consensus – and armed with no logic whatsoever – I’m going for a 2-2.

9) If you do stay up – what areas do you need to strengthen ahead of 14/15? Have any players been linked so far?
Given we don’t know what league we’ll be playing in next season very few names have been mooted to date, but regardless, the lack of goals needs to be addressed. In truth there are weak links aplenty and in addition to a striker or two I’d like to see a new right back, centre-back and centre-mid.

10) What is your favourite memory of Norwich playing Manchester United?
Has to be the 2-0 win at Carrow Road in 2005 when Dean Ashton and Leon McKenzie scored to wipe the smile off SAF’s face after he decided to. ‘rest’ Rooney and Ronaldo. He never played a weakened side against us again.

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