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Man Utd v Besiktas: Preview

Sorry about the delayed preview post. Here goes…

United play Besiktas at Old Trafford, having already qualified for the Champions League round of 16 — unlike some other sides who couldn’t even qualify. It’s now a question of us winning the group.

Dimitar Berbatov could make a return to the starting XI that will likely field an experimental line-up. Rio, Evans and O’Shea, however, are out.

In the press conference, Ferguson spoke, among other things, about EVDS and his replacement. He said the politically correct thing to say (which is to give backing to his deputy ‘keepers.) “Ben has terrific ability and needs game experience. Tomasz is also another good keeper. At the end of the day the two of them will fight it out, I’m sure of that.”

There are reports that Obertan might get his first European start for us, and a strong possibility that Gibson might start today, as well.

In the meantime, reports are awash with news of Vidic’s possible departure come the summer, thanks to some equivocal quotes from the Serb. We’ll probably discuss that sometime later; suffice to say, to his credit, he’s at least said he plans to stay on for 2-1/2 years of his contract (although I call BS on that.)

The manager has also bigged up some of the youngsters in the side, particularly Darron Gibson:

“We could have a non-event game if we wanted to,” he said. “But that is not the way we want it to be. We want an exciting game and we will do our best to challenge the young players who do play.

“Sometimes you cannot hold a young man back and that time is approaching for Darron now because he is becoming a good, powerful midfield player. He is not playing the amount of football he would wish for but he has never let it get to him in terms of being unsettled. His performances in training are excellent and he comes in each day knowing it is going to be worthwhile. There is always an issue about whether it makes a difference between finishing first or second in the group, especially when you look at some of the groups, but we will be trying to be number one.”

The starting XI can be anyone’s guess. My prediction: Foster; Rafael, Brown, Vidic, Evra; Obertan, Anderson, Gibson, Nani; Macheda, Welbeck. Not that I think it’s the best possible lineup, but I’m just throwing it out there. Feel free to throw up some of your own.

Well, this post was hurriedly cobbled up, so I’m ending it with the prediction right away: 1-0 to United.