Date:Monday April 7 2008
Though the extent of Rio`s injury is yet to be announced, the loss of the talismanic Nemanja Vidic has no doubt affected the team. The Doom and Gloom merchants amongst us would suggest that losing both Ferdinand and Vidic at such a crucial stage of the season could be curtains for our Title aspirations; but to them I say stop........and consider Gerard Pique.
Firstly, I will tackle with the argument that he lacks sufficient match experience. Whilst this may be true of Man Utd, where he played just 11 times in almost 4 years; he did have a very long, and prosperous loan spell at Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza last season, where he played a total of 17 games. Of these 17 games, Pique would have come up against the likes of Ronaldinho, Messi, Raul and Van Nistelrooy, and if United scouts are to believed, he performed admirably. In a season where Pique was integral, the Spanish side finished an extremely impressive 6th place in the table having conceded less goals than they had since the 1999-2000 season. Indeed, it is no surprise that the 'Blanquillos` currently sit in 17th place in La Liga, having already conceded 4 more goals than their previous seasons total.
In fact, I remember watching a match involving Zaragoza and Villarreal; in which the United youngster completely nullified the attacking talents of the rejuvenated Diego Forlan (remember him?). Zaragoza went on to win the match 1-0 with Gerard Pique towering in a header; which brings me onto my next point nicely.
Whilst no-one can doubt that it is the defensive abilities of Pique we require at this present moment, he does present a genuine goal threat; something which has been missing from Vidic and Ferdinand recently. In fact, in his season with Zaragoza Pique scored 3 goals, hardly prolific, but when you consider he has already scored for United twice this season (D Kiev and Roma away) you cant help but think that his addition would bring added danger from set pieces, especially with Nani coming back to fitness.
As I said before, even if Rio is passed fit to play, I still believe Pique should be given his chance. Yesterday, I saw less of a young inexperienced boy, and more a tough-tackling, hirsute man vaguely reminiscent of an early Olof Mellberg. And though his time on the pitch was limited, Sir Alex was quick to praise the impact he had on reassuring the visibly shaken defence, stating he thought Pique`s performance was "marvellous".
Those with a good memory will remember Sir Alex claiming earlier on in the season that the club had a special "course charted for Gerard Pique' - well my message to Sir Alex is scrap the course, and give Pique his chance!
Date:Monday April 7 2008
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