Monday, August 18, 2008

United's Silva lining as Neville looks set for continued bench role...

United drawing with Newcastle on Sunday did not surprise me, I'd predicted it might well happen on this blog, nor has it surprised me in the slightest that Gary Neville looks to have dropped down the pecking order with Wes Brown and Raphael da Silva being preferred to the England defender.

Gary Neville has done well to recover following his 16 month struggle to regain full fitness, but in some ways his biggest battle lies ahead. Neville has been the club's best right-back since Paul Parker donned the Red shirt. The fact that at 33 years of age Neville is still contesting for a place in the first team after so many injuries is testament to his strength of character and it speaks volumes about his continued desire to play at the highest level.

If Neville is going to re-establish himself as United' first choice right-back he will first have to dislodge those who stand in his way. While Wes Brown is a very good defender on his day, his distribution continues to be wayward at times and it's here that new boy Raphael da Silva could have the edge on both Brown and Neville.

The young Brazilian has yet to face the white hot heat of a full blown heavyweight Premier League contest and only then will we be able to judge his true potential as the Reds long-term first choice right-back, first and foremost, da Silva will need to demonstrate that he can defend as well as the two England players.

On the wider point of the manager's bench options, Ferguson will be delighted that he can now choose from seven substitutes, but he can only play three of them - still the consolation of "being involved" by getting stripped for potential action has to be a better alternative to the old three from five system.

Of Sunday's season opener with Newcastle, Fergie currently has a big problem with no obvious candidate for the wide right slot, this left the team lacking balance, though lack of balance wasn't the only issue as Newcastle fought hard. The visitors did well and probably deserved their point, but they were also lucky and you need a bit of that when you come to Old Trafford.

On what turned out to be a frustrating day there was some plus points, Fraizer Campbell was unlucky not to score when Shay Given unknowingly blocked what looked like certain goal with his head. Rodrigo Possebon and Raphael da Silva both looked comfortable and confident on the ball in the company of Premier League players, which bodes well for the future.

Next up it's Pompey and after their mauling at Stamford Bridge it's likely to be a very hard fought contest.

Finally, apparently BBC Radio 5-live held a phone-in asking if Chelsea are going to romp to victory in the league, so yes folks the new season has started and the phone-in buffoonery is well and truly under way.

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