Date:Wednesday September 12 2007
Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha could all feature against Everton - last time they were on the pitch together was during the final minutes against AC Milan in the San Siro.
Three days before that game we turned around a two-goal deficit at Everton to win 4-2 but Louis Saha, though initially pencilled in, did not return for that game.
It's now Everton away again, and now Saha is almost certain to play. He's completed 45 minutes against Sunderland and scored the winner so I expect him to start at the Goodison Park.
Cristiano Ronaldo is certain to be back, having served his three-match ban, given for a red card for an alleged headbutt at Portsmouth in our second league game. Last season's best player could make the difference between drawing and losing as he so often did but my heart rejoices mostly at the return of Wayne Rooney.
The England striker suffered a metatarsal fracture against Reading but his recovery was nothing short of miracoulus and he's back in training now. He's expected to start on the bench against his former club.
And why I am so happy, if he's not fully fit yet? Why, it's simple. He completes our Holy Trinity and though it can't be compared to the magical trio of George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton (not least because Saha hasn't got the class of any of these three), it would be foolish to deny that United are at their best when all of them play.
The team reserved some of its best performances for the spring, without Saha: the 4-1 demolitions of Bolton and Blackburn, the aforementioned turnaround at Everton and of course, the game of games, the 7-1 tonking of AS Roma. All without the Frenchman but with our young duo in full flight.
But our overall level of performances have been better in the autumn when all three were there and ran riot against many opponents. The 5-1 destruction of Fulham and the 4-0 away win at Bolton was the highlight of the trio. United were always full of flair and speed and verve when they were on song and it created the foundations for a memorable season.
We bought three flair players over the summer but Anderson is young and inexperienced, Tevez's hectic summer had an impact on his pre-season and he was (is?) desperately short of match fitness when he had to be thrown in. Nani is talented but inconsistend, like Ronaldo in his first three seasons at Old Trafford.
In the absence of our leading attacking players, United scored three goals in five games - pathetic, really. Gary Neville expressed his hope that when all three return, we'll be back to free-scoring ways and I agree, I just can't imagine that this struggle would continue.
Saha and Rooney developed a great understanding in the second half of the 2005/06 season and Ronaldo joined their company at the start of next season. If we have all of them back, our attacking potential will be increased significantly and the new boys won't have to bear a very heavy burden but will have time to settle and adapt, liberated from most of the pressure.
One might say that when all our attacking players are back, there might be a danger that those who are given less opportunity to play will become unsettled. Well, we should worry about it when we will indeed have everyone back. Right now the most important thing would be to start scoring - after all, our next three games are Everton away, Sporting away and Chelsea home. Little margin for error methinks.
Date:Wednesday September 12 2007
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|Man Utd||3||-||0||Hull City|
|2. Man City||17||12||3||2||+22||39|
|3. Man Utd||17||9||5||3||+12||32|
|4. West Ham||17||9||4||4||+10||31|
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