Date: 28th October 2011 at 5:56pm
Written by:
Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley

Will the young midfielder be back for the trip to Goodison?

The pessimist in me says we can’t compete with their money and they’ll run away with the league. The realist in me says we’ve got the experience to keep up, they don’t and will drop points, but they’ll probably still nick it.

The optimist, who mustn’t get beaten by his two evil brothers, thinks that if we win convincingly on the weekend we’ll be back in it.

I’m, of course, referring to Man. City and Everton.

I promise that’ll be the last mention of City in this post. At least, I promise I’ll try!

United must pick themselves up, dust themselves down and do what Fergie promised – respond. To do that God only knows what sort of team Fergie will pick. Even though he allowed six past him, de Gea honestly didn’t have too bad a game. If anything, that mauling (there, I mentioned it) last weekend will only serve to further his education.

At the back is where my concerns lie. I hear that Vidic is back and that is one hell of a lucky break. Who partners him, though, is the difficult choice. Does Fergie, as some United fans appear to want, cast Ferdinand onto the skip heap? Or does he persereve with a proven internationally class defender? I fear, as one of Ferdinand’s biggest supporters, that time may be catching up with him. He can still do a job for United, for sure, but Everton away? I’m not sure. It’s too big a game. I’d have to go for Smalling and Vidic at the back. Smalling has shown great reading of the game and some very nice touches over the past couple of months and deserves a chance to prove himself as heir apparent to Ferdinand. Evans has had his chance(s) and come up short.

Even though he was appalling last weekend you’d have to pick Evra at left back. His defensive positioning is getting worse with age but, as compensation, his attacking abilities are increasing at the same ratio! At right back I think Fabio has to go there. Again, he’s a little bit of a liability in defense but his vibrancy and determination is something that benefits his teammates.

Midfield could prove to be interesting this weekend. Morrison showed up midweek and Pogba has been knocking the door since pre-season. However, I feel that it’ll be too soon for either of these youngsters especially with Cleverley back in the frame. Anderson was weak against City so could drop out of the team but to place the midfield’s faults squarely at his feet would be unfair. Often he and Fletcher were outnumbered two to one. If Cleverley is in or, indeed, if he’s out, I’d love to see Phil Jones get a game in the middle of the park. He’s a great addition to the United squad and has the ability to be that holding midfielder that we’re missing. Many people talked, over the summer, of the need to replace Scholes’ attacking play. The reality is that he sat so deep over the remaining years of his career that we needed a holding midfielder to replace him, not an attacking midfielder. Phil Jones could be that man.

Valencia had a decent showing against Aldershot but it was Aldershot. Is he ready to rediscover the form he was demonstrating prior to his broken ankle against Rangers? Far too often, in recent games, he has appeared afraid to take on the full back and get to the by-line. Nani and Young cut in from their wings because they are more naturally two-footed but Valencia? He needs to take on defenders out wide. That’s why Fergie bought him. On the other wing it’ll be interesting to see who plays. Giggs and Park would be feeling fit and more than capable of producing a performance in such a high pressured game.

Up front I’m about to say the unthinkable – Rooney should be dropped. Not necessarily because he’s done anything particularly wrong (although I did think he played far too deep against City – there, mentioned it again!) I very much doubt Fergie will drop him so soon after ‘resting’ him against Liverpool but he appears to be untouchable at the moment, for club and country and a gentle reminder of Berbatov’s class (and, indeed, Owen’s) could give him a shove in the right direction. He’s a great player, as we all know, but the game against Everton has to be as much about the team performance as any possible Rooney-bashing from the home fans and badge-kissing in retort. It could also be the perfect opportunity for Berbatov to remind Ferguson and the fans of his class and composure.

What of Everton? Moyes, as ever, is proving himself to be a miracle worker with the limited resources, both money and playing, at his disposal. Is he a future United manager? He’s certainly in the frame.

Former United players Howard, Saha and Neville (if he gets a game) will be looking forward to playing against old friends and Ross Barkley will, undoubtedly, have at the back of his mind the opportunity to showcase his skills against potential new friends. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar or a fool! Players all over the world are aware of transfer speculation and Barkley will be no different.

Seamus Coleman has been quoted recently as saying “I think teams coming here know what they’re going to get… Here at Everton we never give up and we play for the 90 minutes. Teams don’t get an easy game and we’ll be looking to do that again on Saturday,”

My prediction? The pessimist says a 1-0 loss, the realist a 1-1 draw, the optimist a 5-0 spanking with Phil Jones bagging all five after I’ve chucked a quid on it.

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