It’s Saturday. It’s 3pm. It’s Old Trafford. It’s a United match? The second 3pm Saturday kick off at home of the season? And we haven’t even played a third of the season yet? Wow…we’re a very lucky lot this season…and with that in mind, and the reds host Steve Bruce’s Sunderland in match 11 of the Premiership season.
The reds go in to this one on the back of three successive wins against Aldershot, Everton and Otelul Galati. Making it four on the trot will be a great result for the reds, who despite not setting the world on fire at the moment, are still digging out results. A trait of that some of the successful Alex Ferguson sides of not too long ago were fammous for, and one that many current fans seem to dismiss as not good enough.
Team selection will once again be a guessing game for the Old Trafford faithful, although David De Gea – who continues to grow game by game – should be a starter in this one, behind a back four of Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand and Jones.
Will Wayne Rooney play in midfield after his more than impressive game in the middle on Wednesday? Or will Ferguson restore him to him rightful position upfront, with Fletcher, Cleverley (possibly), Anderson and Park all available for selection. After the Galati game, Sir Alex said that Park had an important part to play this weekend.
Up top, Berbatov has started to feature a bit more, and he might start in this one. Hernandez will also want to get back in to the starting line up, and Michael Owen misses the game through injury.
Bruce’s men come to Old Trafford lying in 14th place, with just one win on their travels so far this season. Notoriously difficult supporters to please, who are often pictured leaving the ground if they go two goals down in the first half, Bruce has come in for criticism this term and the fact that he’s never beaten Fergie as a boss makes it a doubly difficult game for him.
A point last week against Villa, plus three points away at Bolton Wanderers the week before has eased the pressure somewhat. With that, Sunderland will hope to come away with at least a point to keep momentum up and further boost their stuttering start to the campaign.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet fractured an eye socket in the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at the weekend, so Keiran Westwood, third choice behind Mignolet and the also injured Craig Gordon will get a rare start for the Black Cats.
John O’Shea will miss out. I think most reds would welcome him back, although wouldn’t want to see him face us. It’s bad enough that Wes Brown will feature. Both loyal former players, who always gave everything for the reds. Sunderland also have doubts on midfielder David Vaughan’s groin injury. Lee Cattermole may play instead.
Did you know:
- United have only bagged six goals in their last five league matches, after a stunning start to the campaign in the opening few games.
- SEVEN different defensive combinations have been forced upon the manager in the opening tenleague games.
- Sunderland have scored four goals scored during the last five minutes in their matches this season.
- Connor Wickham became the youngest player to score in the Premiership this season last weekend in the 2-2 draw against Villa. He’s also the second youngest player to score for the Black Cats in the Premiership – behind Michael Bridges. Wickham was 18 years and 212 days old last Saturday.
It’s quite fitting that the visiting boss on Sir Alex’s silver anniversary is the captain of his first title winning side. Steve Bruce was a pivotal member of that team. How could anyone forget his contribution to that game against Sheffield Wednesday? Performing a true captain’s role while Bryan Robson was in and out of the side, defending like a warrior, and all the while keeping a Captain’s Log video diary. I’ll never forget the way he smashed his arm against the TV camera as he and Robbo lifted the Premier League trophy in 1993 above the old tunnel…and they were still pissed from party at Brucie’s house the night before! Saturday’s game will be as much a celebration of times like that as it will be vital to win the game.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
Follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab