Since Manchester United and Barcelona booked their places in the Champions League final a few weeks back, I have read endless reports and blogs revolving around the starting XI Sir Alex is set to choose.
Having read these articles and analysed them scrupulously, there are a number of players that, given they don’t pick up injuries, can almost guarantee themselves a place in the starting line-up. Rooney, Van der sar, Ferdinand and Vidic are some of the names that seem to invoke unanimity from the fans.
Accepting that these names are all but guaranteed a start, it leaves an opportunity for the rest of the squad members to persuade Sir Alex that they have the right skills to fill another berth on the pitch.
If I was lucky enough to be granted fly on the wall access to these interviews in Sir Alex’s office in which the players would state their cases for a start, I can only imagine what their reasons would be. Here are the reasons I believe each of the chosen XI would give:
Van Der Sar:
Sir Alex, I believe you should pick me for the game due to my ice man approach to pressurised situations. I think it is important that the back four have absolute confidence in the man behind them if they are to perform at their best in the final and what better man than the one who has conceded only twice in the whole knockout phase of this year’s competition. And plus, it’s set to be my last ever game of professional football. I need to start.
Sir Alex, you know better than any that a keeper is only as good as his back four and with the likes of Messi, Pedro and Villa aiming to outpace our defence I think I should get the nod due to my ability to get back quicker than most. I do accept that I have to adopt a more defensive role in this game because the forwards of Barcelona will punish our makeshift defence if I am in their half of the field. And if we do go behind, I have the ability to get forward and overlap the right winger which will give their defence nightmares. I have to start.
Sir Alex, you know as well as I do that Barcelona will employ acting tactics to gain an unfair advantage over us if we allow them the opportunity. In the thirty games I have started this season, I have yet to see a card of any colour brandished in my direction. My presence in the team offers calm to the younger members of the squad. It is essential I start. I just need to murk man.
Sir Alex, what more can I say to guarantee myself a place other than I am captain? If you pick me, you can expect my usual steely performance in the back four and I also offer a greater goal threat than any other defender in the squad. I have scored 5 goals in 46 appearances this season and had a dream at the start of the season that I would get 6.
Sir Alex, I haven’t had the best of seasons thus far but I have still proved to be a vital cog in the red machine when it’s mattered. My pace coupled with my ability to defend should be enough for me to get the go ahead. I can cause problems in Barca’s half of the pitch as well as keeping Alvez in my pocket.
Sir Alex, given that I have only been back from injury for a few months, I am much fresher than other members of the squad. I can cause Barcelona problems with my powerful runs and crosses. You surely remember what I did to Cashley Cole?
Sir Alex, I appreciate that a lot of fans have been on my case for my crab like passes this season, but my cool head and ability to slow a game down will be necessary at the weekend. I proved against Chelsea that I am still a top class midfielder. I’d even go as far as saying I probably won that first tie at Stamford Bridge for the team.
Sir Alex, I should be in the team because I have adapted my game from being the best left winger around to being one of the best centre midfielders in the league. I have developed an understanding with Rooney as to where he wants the ball and delivering that pass at exactly the right time. And besides, the silence is killing me. I need to get away from the Mrs.
Sir Alex, I have enjoyed my most prolific season in a United shirt this year. I have scored 8 times in 27 appearances. I have an engine that never gives up and I believe I could be the key to stopping Xavi and Iniesta having too much time on the ball which in turn will make it more difficult for the pair to deliver incisive passes to the front men.
Sir Alex, eeerrrrm I think I should play because I can score vital goals and given my attitude and performances in the first half of the season I believe I owe the fans. I have adapted my game to sit behind the front man more effectively than I did in Rome. I am able to drop back when we aren’t in possession and nick the ball back to feed the front man with my usually incisive passing. Remember what I did against City?
Sir Alex, I don’t think when you bought me last summer that you would have expected me to deserve a guaranteed place in the starting XI but your faith in me has helped me prove my credentials and hopefully you are willing to let me prove myself against Barcelona.
I have scored against massive teams in the world cup as well as scoring crucial premier league goals and Champions league goals during my first campaign in a red shirt. In Rome the team had their chances but failed to make the most of them but you can rest assured that if I get the smallest of chances, I can make that net bulge.
So there we have it. The reasons that I believe will grant each of the above players their place in the team on Saturday.