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In part 1, you heard from Rich Laverty and Marwan Saeed and their views on the season thus far, Moyes and their predictions for the Manchester Derby. Now, we are going to hear from Mike (@Mike25MUFC) and our special guest, Barney(@barneyrednews) from Red News fanzine!
What have you made of Manchester United’s start to the season? At first, fans were concerned about the lack of goal scoring and chance creation. The loss to Liverpool didn’t help yet our win against Leverkusen looks to have changed that perception. Do you feel the same way?
Mike: Encouraged, our start to the season was always going to be testing, the ‘random’ fixture computer saw to that! More so than just the results I wanted to see some positive changes to our style of play and I think we have. Our pressing game has been something I have long been disappointed with, its been non existent to be quite honest. Moyes was known for having his Everton sides press and run themselves into the ground, a very fit team, i think even though its so early, we have seen signs of this. Leverkusen on Tuesday night was a great example, the opening 45 minutes especially was one of the best I’ve seen from a United team in a while.
As for the chance creation debate, for me its been exaggerated. We never perform well at Anfield lets get that straight. I’ve seen us go there with teams including Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Giggs and Scholes and not create a thing so it wasn’t exactly a novelty to see us struggle for chances at Anfield especially without our 2 most creative attacking players, and Chelsea came and played a 4-6-0 formation at Old Trafford. Not many teams will create a lot against such a defensive performance. The result on Sunday will determine how good this opening few weeks have been. If we win I think we’ve done superbly well, draw and its been a good solid start. Lose and its been a bit disappointing, although as I say the new sense of urgency and greater fitness of the team has been very encouraging to see.
Barney: Annoying but think a bit too much was made of it even if it did seem unfair, but United are better off not claiming the hard done by routine – with Moyes’ introduction, you can understand the greater analysis of every moment to our start, but I think we’re too analytical at the moment trying to read too much into everything. This spell is going to take time to pan out and I think everybody – Moyes, us, the fans, the players – are just trying to find their feet in the post Fergie haze. So it’s been a mix; ok, poor at Anfield, and a good performance, pretty much typical of the last few seasons really.
What does the Manchester Derby mean to you? Do you remember your first derby match?
Mike: To me growing up the big game was always Liverpool. The history of our rivalry with them and the endless trophy debates made that inevitable. The derby for so long was lets be honest little more than a procession. City were not at any level to challenge us and we went into it expecting an easy win therefore for me at least it was never a game that really excited me too much I’m not going to lie.
Now since the takeover obviously that’s changed. City have become a rival in the true sense of the word, any team spending that much would lets be honest! The last 5 years has definitely seen a change in how the derby game is viewed, many now will have it as THE fixture due to both the geography and the on field competition. First derby memory? Think it would be the David Beckham free kick from about 40 yards at Main Road, that’s the one that sticks out for some reason! Always remember Keegan i think it was saying post match the keeper shouldn’t been beaten from there! funny what sticks in the mind.:
Barney: First game at theirs was late 70s, a 2-0 loss in horrible weather. Sat in their end, in those old wooden seats, I was about 8 and startled at the levels of hatred and trouble, the Kippax and that short divide between Red and Blue and the stuff – both verbal and property – going this way and next was scarily mesmerising. I’ve had some truly great days there, seeing United comeback and win, seeing titles nearly sealed because of victories (Ronaldo’s penalty) and whilst the fixture has morphed into this strange new era with this money, I think there’s something tribal that always sees this fixture stand out, whether they are about to be relegated, or now spending their way to titles. Liverpool is always the one, but this is more an angry bit of cramp that you want rid of but know it won’t go away.
What do you think will be Moyes’ biggest challenge this season? Personally, besides winning the title, I think handling squad rotation, keeping players happy whilst picking up good results will be a new challenge for him.
Mike: His biggest challenge will be to win, that’s it. He’ll have many challenges he’s never faced before but when alls said and done he will be judged on what he wins like all managers at big clubs. That’s the reality of the situation and he knows this. You can say all the right things, handle players the right way keep everyone happy but at the end of the day that counts for little if you’re unsuccessful in the modern game. In 3 years time if he still hasn’t won anything no one will be saying ” oh yeah but he handles the squad well doesnt he”. Anyone following on from Sir Alex would find it tough. I happen to think Moyes will do well, but his biggest challenge will undoubtedly be to carry on the success of the Ferguson era, arguably the biggest challenge in world football today.
Barney: I think trying to contain any blips, and fan over reactions. He needs time, I fear if he will be given it if we have any wobbles. Again, it’s trying to see how things evolve rather than dissecting every minute detail and performance. We have a right to want this trophy bus to not stop, but it’s trying to balance patience that will be difficult. My main demand is seeing more attacking, enjoyable football as for the last few years it’s been bland efficient.
How do you feel Moyes has done so far? Tough start fixture-wise.
Mike: Alluded to this earlier, overall i think he’s done well, 7 points from an opening 4 games of Swansea A, Chelsea H, Liverpool A, Palace H is about right i think, we picked up the same number under Sir alex in the equivalent 4 games last season when we won the league at a canter, and he’s off to a flyer in Europe which as a certain special one has found this week isn’t always the easiest thing to do! Again i think come 6pm Sunday we’ll have a better idea.
Barney: Ok. Would have liked to have seen more at Anfield, but said that for years now. The Kagawa thing is interesting; it doesn’t look now if he will be able to accomodate him, but maybe he will see that as a challenge to do what Fergie couldn’t. You get the feeling he was trying that with Anderson too but that’s not worked out so far! It’s too early to say, my marker is how we’ve done in 18 months time to judge the Moyes start. To some that’s a long way off but for me that’s when it’ll be Moyes’ side, ethos and performances.
How do you rate our chances both domestically and in Europe this season? Quarter finals in the Champions League?
Mike: Domestically i always rate our chances as very good, we could be managed by Bugs Bunny and id be confident wed go close domestically, the squads very strong depth wise which is a big thing in the premier league especially over the congested winter period, we’re full of players who know how to win which is an underrated quality i feel, and for me we have, when fit, the best attack and defence in the league, i wouldn’t swap having Van Persie and Rooney in one box and Ferdinand and Vidic in the other for any other combination in the league, keep those 4 fit and i see us going very very close, after what i have seen so far i don’t see anything to fear from the rest either, Chelsea and City have both been very poor, Liverpool and Arsenal im not sure have the staying power, for me along with Spurs they don’t have the squads, we shall see.
As for Europe im less confident, then again i always am, i feel more so than ever after last season its as much a lottery a anything, luck of the draw, whos fit at the right times and even referee selection (no turkish please!) can all make or break a team at any stage, on ability i see there being 3 stand out teams this year, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona, i think we are behind those 3 clubs, they all have 5 or 6 world class match winners, then there’s Dortmund, Juventus, Paris St German who i consider on any given day as nasty opponents, it all depends on how we’re shaping up come March next year and who we draw, we could easily go all the way with the right draw, or be out in the last 16 with the wrong one, quarter finals and beyond would be very good for Moyes first year.
Barney: League, always got a chance. We are Champions after all so it was odd to see people write us off so easily (4-1 in the bookies…?), Champions League, after Chelsea’s win, anything is possible but I still can’t see it, unless Real or Barca continue to be stumped after a bad day as in the last few seasons, but sooner or later they are going to return to peak and hit a rhythm in Europe. Are squad, I feel, is still short at the highest level, but who knows, Europe can create freakish moments, as we well know, so I’ll never rule anything out – good or bad – when supporting United.
Do you go through any pre-match rituals before making the trek to the stadium on derby day? Even if you can’t attend the match, do you have a certain routine?
Mike: Im not superstitious, i dont have any set routines, no lucky socks or special derby day meal, i do tend to stay up extra late on the eve of a derby to try and sleep through as much of the morning as possible as i hate counting down the clock! so ill aim to wake up early afternoon as always on a Sunday and save myself the hours of waiting!
Barney: No. If we’re selling it’s usually just trying to trek quickly into the ground to make kick-off. I’m too old to think what I do can affect the players, I just want them to have woken up on the right side of the bed, not me. There is a tinge to the atmospheres at this game which you just do not get on any other day.
Who will be the big players for United this season? What do you make of our new signing? Fellaini has only been here for two weeks and already seems to be a bit of a cult hero.
Mike: Big players will be the usual suspects, Van Persie, Rooney, Carrick, Ferdinand and Vidic, that’s the spine of our team, and as i alluded to earlier for me the strongest in the league, its all about keeping those fit, if we do we’ll always score goals and concede few with those in the team. Fellaini has looked very good so far albeit in 1 and half games! didn’t want to read too much into the Palace performance as well…it was Palace….and they were down to 10 men at the time, i thought he was excellent especially first half against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday though, don’t know the actual stats but id wager its been a long time since a United midfielder won as many tackles and made as many interceptions in a half of football as he did on Tuesday, just his presence gives our midfield such a more solid look and feel about it, and it was in no small part down to his presence Leverkusen had such little play in that first half, early days but a vast improvement on playing Cleverley, Anderson or 40 year old wingers!
Barney: I like Fellaini, I think he’s been steadily improving each season and that’s what United should be looking out for, players on the rise. After Anderson’s performance last week against Palace, the difference was stark. But Fergie was right that our season could depend on Vidic, when he returns he leads, commands and bosses that back line so well, so if he can stay fit with RVP, Rooney can remain head less wobbled and arsey we look strong; can Carrick continue this level of form, Valencia improve? Loads of interesting subplots, but perhaps for the first time in years the United side could pick itself – well, without rotation – bar that one spot that Nani, Young and others could fight for.
There’s been a lot of attention/unnecessary press on Kagawa’s situation. Are you worried he may not feature in Moyes’ plans?
Mike: Not worried at all, i think its all been blown up out of proportion to be honest, Kagawa had next to no pre season, arrived back late after the confederations cup and has been playing catch up fitness wise ever since, its no surprise Moyes has favoured starting those who have played the majority of his pre season and frankly he’s seen the most of! Hernandez has had the same time table, he’s featured even less than Kagawa so far, yet nothings being said about that?? the time to judge whether Moyes fancies Kagawa or not will be at the earliest Christmas if by then even amongst games coming every 3 days he’s still out of favour then is the time to ask questions, not after 3 or 4 games where half a dozen players havnt played, Johnny Evans is another who’s not had a look in, don’t see many #FreeJohnny tweets….then again maybe that’s for the best!
Barney: I fear for him to be honest. We’ve put in Red News gossip that coaches last year and this have said they are not sure how to fit him into the system, so what happens as United won’t budge, is there any point in shunting him out wide which sort of defies the purpose? United have on occasion signed someone thinking they will change – say Berbatov – and fit into our way when sometimes their way is the only way for them to play. But right now, Kagawa or Rooney in that spot? Things change quickly, but there is a certain beat to this story which seems heading towards an unhappy ending eventually. Maybe that’s too dramatic, but we’ve seen it before with others.
There was so much speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney this summer. He looked set to leave after the “angry and confused” statement but he’s still here and playing well. How do you feel about Rooney playing for another season at Old Trafford? Has anything from this summer or the season changed your view of him?
Mike: Nope, Rooneys like 99% of every footballer world wide, a Hired gun, he’s here because we pay him to be, he’s not here because of some undying love of playing for Manchester United which like it or not is just the way of the world, as long as he’s in a United shirt scoring goals and giving his all ill support him as much as i support the rest of the team, people get far to attached to footballers these days thinking they’d ‘die for the shirt’ and ‘love the city and the club’ and all these other cringe worthy clichés, fact is they are mercenaries doing a job they are extremely well paid to do, and as long as he does his job i see no problem.
Barney: I want him to play well. I don’t care about him as a person, but I could say that about most of them. The summer was awful, all those briefings, but United played a blinder and now he’s here it makes no sense to boo or not wish him well. But unless United offer a contract, a big one, this story is far from over.
Who makes your top 4 this season? Who do you have getting relegated?
Mike: Top 4: 1) United 2) City 3) Chelsea 4) Arsenal
Bottom 3: Sunderland, Hull, Crystal Palace
Barney: Same as last, with Spurs and Arsenal again battling for fourth. Liverpool will slide like an old drunk at a Christmas party.
What’s your prediction for the game? Cagey 1-0? Goal fest? Red cards?
Mike: If i had to predict a result id go for a score draw even though i wouldn’t take a draw right now if offered, i think City are there for the taking even though i hate that saying! this is the most confident i have been going into an away derby for a few years, but ill go for 2-2.
Barney: 2-2. But we could predict anything really, nobody knows. I just want us to attack well, like that Cup game, let them be more worried about us than them, as I do think our defence shades it so let our attack prove that! Here’s hoping anyway.
Thanks for reading!
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