“WE NEED EVERY PLAYER”
Manchester United go into tonight’s match on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League after a short period of exile. Louis Van Gaal has admitted that this is the most crucial game of his tenure thus far as it directly relates to the major stipulation of his appointment to the club last season. No Champions League qualification would have meant big trouble for the Dutchman at the end of last term. The prize for United holding their nerve in this tie would a confirmed place in Thursday’s Group Stage draw
Fellaini the mystery striker
Claims from the manager that Fellaini can play in the numer 6, 8, 9 and 10 roles in the team suggest a large amount of faith in the towering Belgian. He looks set to start tonight’s encounter in the number 10 role. Although fans are somewhat sceptical of this I think he deserves a chance here. On his day Fellaini is unplayable and this separate outlet may work for us early on in matches aswell as later on. He can always be replaced by a faster option later in the matches, and if we are ahead at this stage it would only stretch teams when they are forced to chase the match. His presence would mean more crosses and United are a team that are renowned for wide play and lots of crosses. In the press conference Fellaini has stated that he has played in the number 9 and 10 positions for Everton “for the team” suggesting it is also not his favourite role.
Wayne Rooney, Captain
Rooney has not enjoyed the start to the season. He will most likely feature tonight and will be desperate to get his name on the score sheet. Currently it seems the way the team is set up and performing Rooney will have to produce moments of magic to score. Famously ‘rusty’ when returning from injury or preseason this surprisingly hasn’t happened. Considering the player is nearing so close to an age old goal scoring record at United, fans should maybe give him a little more time before waving their white flag. Despite the goal-side sharpness not being there when dropping into the number 10 role ahead of Carrick he looked like he was a little more comfortable. I can see him netting a goal tonight.
In Smalling we Blindly trust?
United’s defence has been impressive this season although we will come up against more difficult opposition as the season progresses. Van Gaal has been impressed with the organisation and this will be reflected in the same back five as the previous games. Smalling will hopefully continue this rich vein of form. The match will be interesting for Blind who is looking to add to the number of doubters he has silenced from the start of the season. With Rojo and Phil Jones yet to return, perhaps the centre back crisis is not quite the crisis we had feared. Blind had also come up against faster and stronger opponents last season at left back and fared quite successfully.
Van Gaal has talked about the importance of squad rotation this season when asked about Ander Herrera and Javier Hernandez. Although Herrera has not figured yet, the fan favourite may feature in tonight’s game, especially as Van Gaal will be looking to provide talisman Wayne Rooney with more chances than he has had to feed off so far in the season
Van Gaal also brought up key names from the youth setup that he has in mind for the coming season. Andreas Pereira, Wilson, Lingard and Sam Johnstone who he feels have something to offer the first team. He talked about the success of the young European Cup winners he coached when at Ajax: Seedorf, Kanu, and Kluivert’s youth combined with the experience of some older stars was a mix that he is trying to impose in United’s current crop. Here he drew parallels with Michael Carrick and Schweinstiger.
Brugge lost their league game 2-0 on the weekend away against Zulte-Waregem. They will be keen to stop this losing run and cause United problems. The beat Panathinikos 3-0 at home earlier in the month. United are on the back of a disappointing draw at home to Newcastle. They will be wanting to get back to winning ways. Ever since the season has started there has been a cloud hanging over United’s ambitions. The cloud being the club’s participation in the biggest club competition in the world. It seems we haven’t really been able to set goals and aspirations until we know where we stand, because essentially the team is still in a state of 2014/15 ‘limbo’. If United progress today, we will hopefully see the team ‘open up’ and show much less tension out on the pitch