Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wenger talks like a United manager while Fergie does exact opposite...

If I'm honest, I do not pay too much attention to a lot of what Fergie says in his pre-match press conferences ahead of Champions League games, especially when the manager hints at containment, as he has done ahead of tonight's first-leg of the semi-final with Arsenal, because as we have seen over recent weeks, the defence that not so long ago was as solid as a rock has been leaking goals aplenty. United conceded two goals against Spurs at the weekend and then there was two against Porto in the quarter-final - so we the fans do not know which United defence will turn up - will it be the Keystone Cops or will the back-four be as a tight as a Nun's ****?

Fergie is quite rightly concerned about the possibility of Arsenal scoring an away goal - but anyone who saw the Chelsea v Liverpool quarter finals will no doubt concur that they were two of the best games seen in recent years in any competition. Isn't attack the best form of defence?

It would be wrong to totally dismiss Fergie's pre-match banter, because he almost always uses the opportunity to send out a few coded messages. Ahead of what are the biggest games of the season so far, the United manager has voiced concerns about the Gunners' scoring that away goal when he stated the blinding obvious that the tie will not be decided in the first-leg. The United manager also added that the champions second-half performance at the weekend has given him food for thought, but sadly he seemed to be advocating plotting a more cautious passage to the final.

So what exactly can United fans expect and what exactly are the coded messages on this occasion? For starters, Carlos Tevez and or Berbatov are likely to start the game from the bench - nothing new here for the luckless Argentine, and the Bulgarian is still in the bad books after missing that penalty against Everton, what's more, no one, including Fergie I strongly suspect, is actually sure that the former Spurs player is going to prove to be true United material, which is a bit ridiculous given his transfer fee, but the fact his Berbatov remains something of an enigma. United will also probably start the game with a cautious 4:3:3. I'm expecting Ryan Giggs to be detailed to help Evra stop the threat of Theo Walcott raiding.

In complete contrast and knowing his team cannot defend for toffee, Arsene Wenger has said his team will approach the semi-final in the true spirit and that his team will attack United.

It's fair to point out that while Arsenal have huge problems in defence currently, it is easy for Wenger to say his team will attack, Fergie on the other hand knows his team can defend well, when they do it properly.

The question is would United fans like to see a really open contest from the kick-off? Because I predict that is what it will turn out to be once the game starts. The point is if you send out an attacking team from the kick-off then you start the game with attacking in mind, which traditionally has always been the United way. I would like to see Tevez, Ronaldo, Rooney and despite his sins Berbatov starting. United are not facing Liverpool or Chelsea who are usually collectively better at defending than the Gunners' - this semi-final could and should be a good old fashioned slug-fest.

If we hear the United fans singing "Argentina, Argentina" at any point during the first-half, it will more than likely mean that Fergie's containment plan will be consigned to the dustbin, I for one wouldn't be surprised if that happens and if that is so then it could be a very interesting night.

Tonight's probable team line up:

Van der Sar, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Carrick, Anderson, Rooney, Berbatov, Ronaldo.

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