Wayne Rooney scores a brace against Reading in the 4-3 win back in December
Manchester United host Reading at Old Trafford as the two clubs embark in only the 19th fixture between the two teams. United have beaten Reading twice this season. A crazy 4-3 Manchester United victory, with seven first half goals was the first fixture, and more recently – the 2-1 victory in the FA Cup, where Phil Jones picked up an ankle injury. Its top versus bottom and as always we have a cracking view from the opposition, injury news, potential lineup an prediction for the match. We welcome comments from both sets of fans.
View from the opposition
We have another great view from the opposition for you from Dan who blogs at thetilehurstend.com. You can follow him on Twitter here – @thetilehurstend. McDermott’s dismissal, Nani’s red card and just who was Robin Friday are all covered!
1) What did you make of Brian McDermott’s sacking and who do you think will replace him?
I was shocked to be honest, not so much at the decision itself but at the strange timing of it all. If they had somebody lined up to come in straight away it would have made more sense but the fact that there’s no sign of a new appointment makes it an even more strange decision. As for who the new man will be, anyone but Di Canio as far as I’m concerned. To be honest, we have no idea what sort of man the new manager is looking for but of the names banded around I’d prefer someone like Di Matteo or Adkins.
2) How would you sum up Reading’s season?
Not so good, bad, dire, then pretty good then back to dire. After an OK start we suffered some injuries and just sank and sank.
No wins until November and then a long run of defeats to key relegation rivals left us worried about getting past Derby’s lowest points record but a couple of signings, a change of formation and a bit of luck helped us have a great January and briefly escape the bottom three.
Sadly we’ve now lost the last four league games including massive six-pointers at home to Wigan and Villa so it’s not exactly been a glorious season.
3) Do you think you’ll go down?
Sadly so. Our next two games are against yourselves and Arsenal so just write those two off now. That leaves us trying to make up at least four points in seven games, with two of those being against Liverpool and City and I don’t think we’ve got the quality to win the other five. Would I be stunned to see us stay up? No but I can’t disagree with the 1/7 odds the bookies are offering on our relegation right now.
4) What have you made of United this season?
It’s a strong but not a vintage United side that’s taken advantage of a weak Premier League. The signing of RVP has given you the edge you needed to see off stuttering a City and shambolic Chelsea but I’d guess I’m not alone in my view that this is one of the weaker sides that Fergie has put together.
That being said, a weak Premier League has given the likes of Cleverley, Rafael, De Gea, Welbeck etc the chance to develop and you’ve got a pretty decent core. I think you’re still lacking a big name player in the midfield, but other than that I see no reason you can’t be fighting again on all fronts next season.
5) Did you think it was a red card for Nani in the 2-1 defeat to Madrid?
I wouldn’t have given a red but I can see why it was given and as Roy Keane said post-match, if the player gives the ref a chance to send him off, he can’t really feel to hard done by.
Referees are frustrating whatever they do. If they uphold the letter of the law they get accused of spoling games but if they don’t they get accused of favouring a team or not doing their job properly. It’s a thankless task really but it’s a shame that a moment of madness from Nani has cost you going through.
With that being said, I can’t see anyone but Barca winning it and I don’t see this United side as being any better than the ones that were confidently beaten in 09 & 11 so it’s a bit of a moot point really!
6) The 4-3 match at your place was ridiculous, are you expecting the same this weekend?
No not really, I think it’ll be much more like the 2-1 we saw in the FA Cup a few weeks back. I suppose a lot will depend on how our caretaker-manager Eamonn Dolan sets us up. He could well throw caution to the wind and go 4-4-2 and in which case you’ll see a fair few goals, or he might do what we did on the opening day of the 07/08 season, throw 10 men behind the ball and just try and cling on to a point. Either way I think we’ll get beat!
7) What do you think the score will be?
A battling Reading team to go down to a 3-1 defeat.
8) Who has been your best player this season? And the worst?
Best player…. not a lot to choose from really. Adrian Mariappa has had a string of solid displays, as has Adam Federici after a dire start to the campaign. Alex Pearce has done well when selected and Adam Le Fondre had a great January. I can’t really pick one right now but I’m hoping a hero emerges in these final weeks!
As for the worst… in terms of failing to live up to expectations you would have to give the award to either Danny Guthrie, Chris Gunter or Jason Roberts. Roberts has just been injured all year bar a brief 6 or 7 game run, Guthrie has been injured and kicked off in the dressing room while Gunter was signed for £2 million (a lot for us!) and has been bombed out of the team for Shaun Cummings and then Stephen Kelly.
9) How will you line up?
Again with a new manager I really don’t know what to expect. With our lack of a natural striker to play in a 4-5-1 I suspect it’ll be more of a 4-4-1-1 but who those players will be I’ve no idea.
10) Was Robin Friday really that good of a player!?
Haha, being just 26 I never saw him play but from what my Dad has told me he was a man who could win a game on his own and just mesmerise a crowd. Given that we were in Division 4 & 3 at the time I suppose you could say that it’s easier to look good but by all descriptions his natural ability was up there with anyone of his generation.
The problem was his off the field lifestyle. Imagine George Best but without Sir Matt there, ever. He liked to live a certain lifestyle and in that lifestyle football just came second to having a good time. I’d have loved to have seen the man play but there is a film of his life in the works! http://www.robinfriday-themovie.com/index_home.html so that’ll be interesting.
Best of luck at the weekend, as it’s Red Nose weekend and it’s all about charity, fancy donating us three points?
Bet £20 on Patrice Evra to score in the game wins you £170
Bet £20 on Wayne Rooney to score three goals wins you £270
Bet £20 on Robin van Persie to score first goal in 3-0 victory wins you £260
Injury News & Suspensions
The league leaders are still without Phil Jones, who suffered ankle ligament damage against Reading in the FA Cup back in February, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson
revealed today in his press conference that Luis Nani will miss two weeks through a hamstring injury. Paul Scholes is till out with a knee injury, whilst Darren Fletcher is still a long term injury concern.
Manager less Reading travel to Manchester without goalkeeper Adam Federici, who has a ankle injury, whilst Jimmy Kebe (groin strain) and Jason Roberts (hip) are both unavailable for selection. Second top goalscorer Pavel Pogrebnyak is suspended for the clash.
Manchester United lineup
With the International break on the horizon, Sir Alex Ferguson can look to field a strong side. Nani is missing from the Manchester United lineup, so expect Young or Valencia to replace him, whilst Giggs could well replace Kagawa:
Young last started a match in the 2-0 victory over QPR last month, so he could well start this match – however, Valencia is a shadow of his former self and needs games to try and recapture that unplayable form many Reds were accustomed to. Evans has been sensational this term, however – Ferguson may look to rotate, which means that Ferdinand could even be dropped to the bench, now that he is back in the fold with the England national team.
Ferguson will also be looking to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to recapture their goal scoring form together. Robin van Persie last scored in the 2-0 victory over Everton in February. Wayne Rooney has found the back of the net more recently, with a goal in the 4-0 victory over Norwich City and another in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea, so far in March. The last time both players scored in a fixture was in the 3-1 win over Sunderland just before Christmas.
On paper, its one of Manchester United’s easiest games of the whole season. Reading have never beaten United in the league, despite this being only the sixth time the two clubs will have met in the league. Many Reds will think back to the opening day of the 2007/08 season, when United couldn’t break down a ten man Reading and drew the game 0-0. You knew it was getting desperate when John O’Shea was used as a makeshift centre forward following an injury to Wayne Rooney. Even though United have won both games this season, they’ve both been by a single goal margin.
Reading have lost the last four league matches. Their last win came at the start of February against Sunderland, which came at home. Reading’s single win on their travels so far this season came at Newcastle, winning 2-1 having been 1-0 down at halftime. Their heaviest defeat so far this season has come away at Arsenal, when they lost 5-2. Adam Le Fondre, who scored in the 4-3 defeat to Manchester United in December, is the club’s top goal scorer with 12 goals. However, out of his 27 appearances so far this term, 17 have been as a substitute, which is a pretty impressive feat. Le Fondre has started in both games against Untied this season and is expected to do so tomorrow.
Given Reading’s poor away record and United’s extremely strong home record, having only lost to Spurs in September, this should be a one sided match. However, if you cast your minds back to the manager less QPR in December, United went behind early in the second half before Evans, Fletcher and Hernandez helped United to a 3-1 win.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Reading