Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are 'one man team' United ready for showdown with City?...

Looking ahead to the Carling Cup semi-finals with neighbours Manchester City and following the impact of installing a new manager in Roberto Mancini, the champions could well be set for a torrid time of it over both legs. Even if City hadn't controversially sacked former manager Mark Hughes, City would have been up for it, because everyone in football is aware that this is one of their best opportunities of winning a half decent trophy since they last won the then named League Cup back in 1976.

IF recent form is anything to go by, then it's United who should be the more worried of the two; not only that but Reds fans are only too aware that in Fergie we have a manager who could well play into City's hands if he doesn't select his strongest possible team - in sharp contrast, Mancini will be acutely aware that winning a trophy - any trophy - would be, ahem, massive.

City are coming off the back of two wins without conceding a goal, next up they have the not so difficult looking task of facing 'Boro in the FA Cup away at the Riverside; the fact that City might well have improved their questionable defence in short order since the appointment of Mancini, could give them confidence about their ability to take on and beat the champions. City's achilles heel has been defending this season; goal scoring hasn't been an issue; they have three players in the Premier League list of top 15 scorers and have notched 38 goals in total, that's just two less than the champions; in contrast, United have just Rooney in the list of leading scorers with an impressive 13 goals. Rooney's form and importance to United cannot be overstated, a point well made (unusually it has to be said) by Jamie Redknapp over the weekend - without Rooney, United are very ordinary and for once I have to agree with him.

United have been showing mixed form at times in December; the champions lost badly at Craven Cottage when showing no fight or spirit, in what were admittedly difficult circumstances with so many key defenders missing through injury as they went on to lose 3-0; the Red Devils also lost at home to Aston Villa, again they were nowhere near their collective best.

On the positive side United won well at West Ham winning easily 4-0, they also won away in the Champions League against Wolfsburg when winning 3-1. In the Carling Cup, the holders came out on top over a lacklustre Spurs as well comfortably beating a second-string Wolves side at Old Trafford. The champions won again on the road this weekend in the league at Hull City when winning 3-1.

So United have been blowing hot and cold in December and it remains to be seen what January's fixtures will yield in terms of results. IF god forbid, City actually win the Carling Cup semi final (we the fans will never hear the end of it) they will in all probability go on to win that elusive piece of silverware. From a United perspective if the worst case scenario comes to being, then no doubting Fergie will attempt to gloss over that reverse when stating that the champions have 'bigger fish to fry' - if he does, he will be making a big mistake in the eyes of the fans', but let us hope any excuses won't be needed.

For now, we can look ahead to what will no doubt be an intriguing and very important month that ends with the Premier League clash with Arsenal at home. Interestingly, on the same weekend that Jamie Redknapp more or less described United as a 'one man team' another 'died in the wool' scouser, none other than, Alan Hansen, made United favourites to win the title, let us hope he is right...

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