If I Were Manager...
As with any other season, Sky Sports is doing its utmost to make sure any match between any two of the so-called "Big Four" is a massive anti-climax, by building up the latest clash between United and Chelsea to epic proportions. But alas, this is the way of modern football...
Now, there have been alot of views recently on who should play on Sunday, with the poor early season performances leading many United fans to re-think what our best team is. Though the hugely underrated Michael Carrick and suspended Vidic are out of the running, Sir Alex has a surprisingly large squad to choose from.
I must stress that the team below is not necessarily what I think will line up on Sunday as I will explain later, but instead it is the team I feel we SHOULD put out.
Goalkeepers: Van Der Sar
Defenders: Brown - Ferdinand - Evans - Evra
Midfielders: Fletcher - Hargreaves - Anderson
Forwards: Ronaldo - Berbatov - Tevez
Subs: Kuszazck - G. Neville - O`Shea - Scholes - Nani - Giggs - Rooney
Now, some may be surprised by some of the inclusions above, but let me explain. Firstly, in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, I believe Ferguson should go with young Johnny Evans. The lad performed very well on Wednesday, admittedly against a poor Villarreal attack. He was strong in the air and on the deck, and showed me nothing that would think he couldn`t handle the step up to Chelsea. I don`t expect Chelsea to start with Drogba, so the physicality of Vidic won`t be missed, and to perfectly honest, a defence with Rio Ferdinand in it is likely to do more right than wrong. Another argument for playing Evans is the fact that it enables us to play our established full-backs Brown and Evra, who will be needed to stop Chelsea`s full-backs; who have been given new license to get forward by Scolari. Also, Brown has a good record against Chelsea, and he usually puts in a good performance against the boys in blue.
Moving further forwards and some may be surprised that a squad consisting of three central midfielders does not include Paul Scholes. However, I must admit to having similar reservations about Paul in these big away games as my esteemed college, Zae. In his place, I feel Fletcher should be rewarded for his early season performances which have shone in an otherwise poor start. The Scot also has become somewhat of a big game player and always raises his games when required. Alongside him, Hargreaves and Anderson will hopefully be able to win the battle of midfield against an admittedly very strong Chelsea midfield of Lampard, Deco and Ballack.
And now to the strike force. The signing of Berbatov means certain players are no longer guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, which in my opinion is good. I`m certain Ronaldo will start, regardless of Fergie`s concerns, as we could see from his introduction on Wednesday...we sorely missed him. For me Tevez picks himself with his consistently dogged, robust performances. Also, I feel he is much more suited to plating on the wing than Wayne Rooney. Up top is probably where Sir Alex faces his trickiest decision. Does he go with Rooney or Berbatov? For me, this game should see Berbatov take the position. He is not an impact player, and so needs time to settle in the match, unlike Wayne Rooney, who could be bought on with 20 minutes to go and score. I am not for one minute saying that this should be a future solution to who plays, because for me Rooney is one of our most important players. I just feel that we have to match up with Chelsea all over the pitch, which means playing a 4-3-3, which for me doesn`t suit Rooney`s game as well as Tevez.
So, there it is. As I said earlier, id be very surprised if this team lined up tomorrow, as I feel Fergie will most probably opt for Neville at RB, shifting Brown alongside Rio. In midfield I expect Fergie will continue his alliance to Scholes and up top I can`t see him leaving Rooney on the bench. But who knows, I certainly won`t have any complaints if this team enters the field on Sunday.
What do YOU think the team should be?