Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Wednesday May 11 2011
Before we set off into battle on Saturday lunchtime I thought it was only fair to try and tackle an interview with the Champions elect and a chance to do so came along nice and early.
I was approached by Chris who writes the up and coming Can They Score? about doing an interview for his site so I thought it only be fair if I hounded him with some questions.
And the end result is as follows -
1) With the title pretty much in the bag barring a stupid set of results, what will Man United's mentality be ahead of the clash on Saturday?
As I expect most managers would be, Sir Alex is seemingly supremely confident going into the final two games but I am sure he will be very keen to wrap the title up, with a point, or three, on Saturday.
With the Champions League`s final fast approaching, the Reds will naturally be taking it carefully until then but they cannot afford to leave #19 to chance.
If the Reds were to lose at Ewood Park, it could leave us in the uncomfortable (but not exactly impossible) position of having to avoid defeat, admittedly at home, against an unpredictable Blackpool side, who will be fighting for their PL status next year- something which could be both physically and mentally tiring for our players.
Therefore, I think we will see a professional mentality from the Reds, similar to that of the mentality we approached the second leg of the Schalke match, where it was necessary to get the job done, while avoiding suspensions & injuries.
2) With a Champions League final to look forward to, will United be tempted to rest some star names?
When we look at who will be playing in the CL Final, considering the recent teams in our big matches, I think Sir Alex has a good idea of who he will play at Wembley. Knowing this, he will have to balance the need to keep them fit and sharp, against the need to avoid injury and over-exertion.
Therefore, I don`t think we will see much of Giggs, who didn`t play one minute between the CL SF 1st Leg and the recent Chelsea match. Similarly, I think Rio will be rested heavily just to ensure he is fully fit, as he has probably picked up some niggling injuries in his recent flurry of games. Another player I would expect us to protect is Rooney, just in case
However, when we look at the United squad this season, I think our strength has been collective, rather than individual.
Sir Alex will want to give players who may be lacking in confidence/ game time the opportunity to show why they deserve a place in the squad at Wembley; meaning you`ll probably have the the likes of Rafael, Evra, Fletcher, Anderson, Berbatov & Owen all wanting to show why they are needed against Barcelona.
It is testament to our strength that Nani will be playing tenaciously, in the hope of starting on the 28th May.
3) Who has been the main man for United this season?
Unlike other seasons, I don`t think there has been a stand-out contender for POTY. Despite this, I don`t think it shows a weakness in our squad but more a collective arrangement of supremely gifted footballers, who work hard for each other.
If we were to narrow it down to a handful, the main candidates, in terms of consistency, would be Edwin Van Der Sar & Nemanja Vidc, who have been quite simply world-class. Wayne obviously has had his season tarnished by his crazy antics in October and Ryan Giggs has maybe played too sparingly to deserve the accolade this season.
Strangely, both Nani and Dimitar Berbatov has seemingly been forgotten, after their incredible form is the first half of the season, which really kept us alive when there was a general doom and gloom surrounding Old Trafford.
Both players are now struggling to find places in the team, with the emergence of Valencia and Hernandez but I think they deserve honourable mentions, with the pairing that replaced them being superb as well.
4) Over at Rovers, what do you make of the whole Steve Kean/Venky's saga?
Personally, I thought the club was run very well before the takeover but I realise it was in desperate need of some investment.
Seeing the background of Venky`s, I was very surprised to hear of their ambitious plans, considering their relatively modest resources. However, looking at their background, I am sure they have a plan in place (and they didn`t burden the club with debt!).
I was shocked to Sam Allardyce go, especially considering the replacement they had lined up, but I think Kean has done a respectable job, since his arrival. Although I feel Allardyce would have easily surpassed the 40 point mark, with Blackburn, by now.
5) Is there anyone from the Rovers side you can see causing United a problem on Saturday?
I think Blackburn have some very good players in Pedersen, Hoilett & N`Zonzi, with the latter being two very promising prospects.
Looking back at previous meetings, I think United are always slightly wary of the threat Pedersen holds, who normally raises his game against us. Similarly, Hoilett & N`Zonzi both have the ability, in my opinion, to be game-changers.
If N`Zonzi can manage to control the midfield, with his passing, tackling and aerial ability then I think he could well pose a threat when he drives Blackburn forward, from which Hoilett could cause anyone of Fabio/ Rafael/ O`Shea problems.
6) Make a team solely of Blackburn/Manchester United players but with a maximum of 7 from one side?
Looking at your team, I feel you have a very strong spine to your team, with a good keeper, two strong CB`s and a selection of CM`s.
However, if we to choose a 'dream team` it would consist of:
Van Der Sar / Salgado Ferdinand Vidic Evra / P Jones / Valencia Dunn Hoilett/ Rooney Hernandez
Generally, I think our defence is easily superior but I would include Salgado for his experience and know-how (which is something the Da Silva twins lack) and attacking intent (which O`Shea lacks).
Next, I would place Phil Jones in DM seeing as it something we definitely lack. Then in midfield, I would put a fully-fit Dunn behind Rooney & Co- simply because of his incredible play making skills and technique- it is just such a shame he is so frequently injured.
Out wide, I`d put Hoillet on the left, ahead of the exuberant Park and 'apparently` ageing Giggs.
7) And finally, can I grab a prediction?
I`m going to put my Red hat on and I`m going to predict a 3 1 win. The Reds are so close to #19 and regardless of the fight the Blue & White Army put up, I can`t imagine Sir Alex letting any complacency or distraction compromise our chances of Premier League victory. I expect you to get a goal but I, personally, don`t think it will be enough.
For a look at the return interview please feel free to visit Chris' site and check out this bad boy.
A big thank you to Chris for taking the time to do these for us.
Date:Wednesday May 11 2011
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Bowyer on Dunn and Rhodes (Friday June 14 2013)
Bowyer makes backroom appointments (Monday June 10 2013)
Paul Agnew leaves Rovers (Friday June 7 2013)
Hanley signs new long term Rovers deal (Sunday June 2 2013)
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