Date:Friday December 15 2006
A lengthy break after the Manchester derby is almost over. United are now aware of the identity of their Champions League opponent so we now concentrate on the game on Sunday.
First and foremost I hate to visit teams right after they've got rid of their manager. A change at the helm always seems to cause a surge, an upheaval at a srtuggling team and whilst it may be short-lived, it could cause huge problems for us.
I agree with Ian Holloway: sacking Pardew was a disgrace, I don't think anyone could have done a better job in the middle of all the speculation about the takeover. Mr Magnusson could have been a bit more patient but of course it's not my business so let's move on.
As you all know, they've installed Alan Curbishley and that's a glimmer of hope. He's a really good manager, no doubt, but his record against Manchester United is apalling so hopefully we won't be able to make the most out of that surge I mentioned earlier.
All in all, it should be an interesting Sunday afternoon with Chelsea facing a tricky test at Goodison Park after reducing the gap to five points via a really stinking performance against Newcastle.
Alan Curbishley firmly believes that every sequence is bound to end sooner or later.
"Sir Alex didn`t hesitate to remind me about my record against his club, but there`s a first time for everything,' the new West Ham manager insisted.
"When I spoke to Sir Alex he told me when he took over at United 20 years ago they were in a similar position and I had an opportunity to go into a club and be successful."
Sir Alex wondered whether the sacking of Pardew would have an uplifting effect on the Hammers.
'You always wonder what kind of effect it will have in the dressing room.
'We're expecting it to be difficult. Players will have a desire to do well and impress the new manager.
'It will be hard and we've got no illusions about that, but we have a good record at Upton Park.'
Anton Ferdinand could face his brother Rio after recovering from a troublesome ankle injury. Danny Gabbidon and Dean Ashton are definitely out.
The Argentinian's bound to produce a really good performance as he's undeniably a quality player even though he's shown little of that. He would be branded as a flop if he didn't turn things around soon enough.
Patrice Evra is out but otherwise Sir Alex can rely on everybody. Even Park Ji-sung has a chance to make the trip to London!
He hasn't scored for a while now but Upton Park was always a good hunting ground for him so I hope Ginger Prince will be able to get on the scoresheet while delivering his usually fantastic performance!
Hammers seem to be intimidated by United on their own turf: they haven't defeated the Reds in London since 1992! No signs of bucking the trend now as United are the finest away team in the league this season.
I'd have gone for a United win had they not fired Pardew. This change made me cautious so I say it'll be a 1-1 draw. I hope the lads will prove me wrong!
Prepare for the upcoming month: in 30 days time, the Reds will face Aston Villa no less than three times. First, a league meeting at Villa Park on 23 December, then games against Reading, Wigan and Newcastle. January brings back Villa: FA Cup encounter on 7 January and league clash on 13 January, both at Old Trafford.
Date:Friday December 15 2006
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