United welcome Wolves to Old Trafford on the back of an exceptionally bad week.
Not only were United knocked out of the Champions’ League at the group stages but Vidic was ruled out for the rest of the season and they were consigned to Thursday (or Tuesday if you believe some recent press reports) and Sunday fixtures. One benefit that must be had from this week, however, is that the Europa League does offer Ferguson a chance to a) ‘focus on the league’ and b) blood some of the youngsters and fringe players in European competition. This could be a platform from which Pogba, Berbatov, Morrison, Gibson et al. launch or revive their careers.
Anyway, back to the game at Wolves. Ferguson, quite rightly, will try to use this recent result as a motivating spur. Much like he did with the ‘6-1’. However, what concerns me is that I haven’t seen much a response since that fateful day. I recognise that we’ve had a very difficult start to the season, fixture wise, and to be within five points of the lead isn’t to be sniffed at but, in reality, we’re struggling.
Everyone wanted Sneijder and he would have been a great signing but he wouldn’t have been the answer. There’s something amiss at United at the moment and it has to be resolved this weekend. De Gea needs not only a clean sheet but he needs to do the simple things well. I’m not going to criticise his performances this year. In fact, as an amateur goalkeeper myself, I’ve been one of his biggest fans this season and I was livid hearing the commentry claim that his free kick save against Basle was ‘a good save, nothing more,’ but he needs a real stand out performance this weekend.
At the back Ferdinand needs to step up too. I think he’s looked pretty decent in recent games but with Vidic gone he needs to command the back four more than ever. Evra said that certain players need to look at themselves in the mirror and, Patrice, you need to do so too starting against Wolves. Smalling, if selected, needs to atone for his error on Wednesday. It was an error which came in an otherwise good game for him and highlighted the plight of defenders and goalkeepers – their errors are so much more high profile and costly than anyone else’s on the pitch. As for who will partner Ferdinand (presuming he starts) it’s a fight between Jones and Evans. I’m not one to moan about Ferguson but I sincerely hope he starts with Jones as I cannot, for the life of me, see what he sees in Evans.
Midfield. Ah, midfield. The enigma that is the United midfield. Who starts against Wolves? After this week I hope that Giggs retains his place as he looked vibrant and ageless. Nani was another who impressed against Basle, if he did appear a little selfish on times. I’m concerned over the form of Young who needs to up his game to that of a United player. However, I still hope that he starts against Wolves. Carrick has been playing well of late and he was hugely missed against Basle so he should get a start.
Up front I think that Welbeck has to start as he looked lively when introduced midweek and Rooney will, naturally, partner him. Rooney, and I’ll finish with this, needs a goal. United need a Rooney goal.