Today it is my pleasure to welcome Scott from the very successful Manchester United blog, Republik Of Mancunia, who gives his thoughts about United’s season so far and tonight’s game.
Scott, welcome to TottenhamBlog. A lot of Spurs fans were initially disappointed when we drew United away from home in the Carling Cup, but what sort of team do you think Sir Alex will put out? Will it be stronger than in previous rounds?
Last season, in all but one of the rounds we played against Premiership opposition and there wasn’t much of a difference in the players Fergie selected for each round. Whilst Arsenal might play more or less a team of kids, Ferguson tends to go with a starting line-up mainly of fringe players, a few youngsters, and one or two more experienced/first choice players.
Foster, Neville, Evans (if fit), Brown, Rafael/Fabio (if fit), Obertan, Gibson, Anderson, Nani, Welbeck and Owen would be my guess. Saying that, Berbatov could do with a game after being injured over the past few weeks. Regardless, I can’t imagine Fergie will put out anything which resembles our first choice team, but will have very strong options on the bench. But who knows, our team is so changeable at the moment!
Are you satisfied with United’s season thus far? How optimistic are you that they can catch Chelsea and challenge in Europe?
This time last season we were further behind Liverpool than we are Chelsea at the moment, so I’m satisfied. I don’t think we played that well last season and can count the amount of great games on one hand. Already this season I’ve been very pleased with how we’ve played on a number of occasions. Given that Chelsea are going to be without some of the best players for January (most notably Drogba and Essien) and United hit their best form in the second half of the season, I’m confident we’ll win the league again this season.
As for Europe, I’m not so sure. It’s hard to look past Barcelona and Real Madrid this season, due to number of match winners they have in their team, as well as their vast European experience. The best three players in the world are in their teams. If Hargreaves comes back fighting fit I’ll feel happier, but after playing in two consecutive European Cup finals, I’m alright with us not winning it this year!
How well do you think the team have adapted to the loss of Ronaldo?
I think we’ve adapted well. He was our highest scorer for the past three seasons so of course you’re going to feel that kind of loss – the fact that he’s one of, if not the best player in the world, only adds to that. But he isn’t the first massively important player we’ve lost. For example, we didn’t buy anyone to replace Ruud van Nistelrooy (with 24 goals in 47 games compared to Ronaldo’s 26 in 53 last season), but in our first season without him we went on to score more goals and won the league!
All our attacks went through him, just like all our attacks went through Ronaldo. Now the players are sharing the goals between them. Giggs, Valencia and Fletcher have all scored 3 goals, Scholes, Carrick and Nani have 2. Even bloody Anderson has scored! Plus it means Rooney gets to step in to the limelight and he’s only 1 goal away from being the top scorer in the league.
Who do you see as your most important player these days?
The obvious answer seems to be Wayne Rooney. I think he’s a fantastic player and his passion and enthusiasm makes a massive difference to our team. But Darren Fletcher is also hugely important. We don’t have anyone else in the team who does what he does and alongside Rooney, he is consistently the hardest worker.
Would you expect Ferguson to spend in January? If so, what position(s) need to be addressed?
I doubt Fergie will spend in January. He’s more or less said that. A couple of months ago I would have said the wings need strengthening, but we’ve since seen the return of Park from injury, the emergence of Obertan and settling of Valencia. We do need to look at the holding midfield role in the summer if Hargreaves doesn’t come back and do well this season and another striker depending on Macheda/Welbeck/Owen’s season.
If you could add any Tottenham player to the United squad, who would it be?
I like the look of Modric. Palacios is handy too.
Berbatov hasn’t been as much of a success at Old Trafford as he was at White Hart Lane. Do you think he’ll ever come good and prove why so much money was spent on him?
Berbatov was the main man at Spurs and your best player. You would imagine there would be a change in his effect when moving to a club like United. He wasn’t too popular in his first season but he’s become better liked this season. For the record, I have been a big fan since he joined and can’t understand how any red can watch him play and not rate him.
We paid the money we had to pay to get him. Fergie valued him at £20-25m but for the sake of an extra £5m, saw the deal as worth it. I would like to see more goals from Berbatov but it shouldn’t be ignored than only Van Persie had more assists than him in the league last season. In your first season at United, to score/assist 19 goals in 31 games isn’t a bad start, but yes, alongside his incredibly skillful feet, it would be nice to see more goals.
Michael Carrick has been a very important player for you over the past few seasons, but now seems to be becoming slightly marginalised. Do you still see him as one of the main figures in your team, or could you see him moving on?
I can’t imagine him moving on. He’s had a poor start to the season but over the past couple of weeks seems to be finding his feet again. He’s not one of the main figures of the team but I still think he’s important and has a job to do.
What have you made of Tottenham so far this season? Do you think that we’re up to the challenge of finishing in the top four?
I would love to see Spurs replace the dippers in the top four. It’s between you, Villa and City and I think you probably have the best chance of doing it – if you don’t bottle it.
Finally, what’s your prediction for the game?
United win. I’ve got to say that really!