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Manchester United vs Bolton: Preview

Berbatov vs BoltonInternational week is finally over and at last we can look forward to the return of the Premier League. The international break probably couldn’t have come at a better time in fairness as most of the lads were afforded the opportunity to escape from the club environment following the pedestrian performance against Sunderland.

Bolton at the Reebok is never easy. Bolton at Old Trafford, on the other hand, should be fairly straightforward. Although following the events of a couple of Saturday’s ago and the fact that Wayne Rooney is out, the Trotters at home becomes a far tougher hurdle to negotiate.

Anyone who watched England’s victory over Belarus in midweek will have noticed Ben Foster nudged his way back into international contention. While he still looks as nervous as ever when the ball’s in the air, a world class save from point blank range certainly went some way in helping him book a spot on the plane destined for South Africa.

Unfortunately for Foster, it looks like sporadic appearances in the Carling Cup await him for the rest of this season at United. Edwin van der Sar’s long awaited return is finally upon us as the Dutchman successfully completed ninety minutes for the reserves last Tuesday and his first team return now looks rather ominous.

John O’Shea should resume at right-back following a string of impressive displays with Patrice Evra bombing up and down the left. While I don’t want to be drawn into the Rio Ferdinand debate too much, my argument is that form is temporary, class is permanent. Rio is certainly lacking confidence at the moment and you’d be foolish to ignore that point but the only way Fergie is going to build his confidence back up will be by giving him games. I would be surprised, nay shocked, if Rio didn’t line up alongside Vidic on Saturday.

In midfield, both Nani and Valencia scored for their respective nations over the past week and will be battling it out for a starting berth on the right. Following a prolonged period of rest one would suspect Ryan Giggs will get the nod but it becomes something of a guessing game for the central midfield pairing. Given that Scholes should be afforded plenty of room to assert his authority, expect him to start alongside Fletcher.

Upfront it would appear that Michael Owen has managed to shake off his recent groin problem so he should start and depending on whether Berbatov returns from Bulgaria in time, Ryan Giggs may be moved into a more advanced position. Coincidentally, one more league goal for the Welshman and that’s his 100th in the Premier League.

From a statistical perspective Ferguson should be full of confidence heading into the game having triumphed over Bolton in eight of the last nine Premier League meetings.

As for the pre-match comment, Ferguson has hailed Ben Foster as England’s best option in the goalkeeping department.

“I still feel he [Foster] is the best English goalkeeper around,” the United boss said.

“He has been outstanding in a lot of things. The save he made on Wednesday [for England against Belarus] was typical of his performance level with us, too. They are a demonstration of the guy’s ability.

“But he still has not had a lot of game time and experience. His injuries have curtailed the progress he was making.

“He is only going to get better, though, and there is no question he will be a fantastic goalkeeper.”

Bolton boss Gary Megson, meanwhile, has insisted that he won’t go to Old Trafford with the same mentality as the Sunderland side that claimed a point a fortnight ago.

“Sunderland got a good result there two weeks ago, but it doesn’t mean to say everybody going there is going to get a good result,” he said.

“It’s not a blueprint, the way Sunderland played – the game just went that way for them.

“To play exactly the same way Sunderland do, or like any other team, you have got to have exactly the same players – so we have just got to go there and look at what is best for ourselves, not at what other football clubs have done in the past.”

After last weekend I’m sure most United fans, myself included, would just be happy with three points and a decent performance whatever the final result on Saturday. It will certainly prove a big test with regards to our ability to cope without Rooney and what a golden chance this could be for one Michael Owen.

Prediction: 2-0 United



  1. Jay wire

    17 October 2009 at 22:54

    Trust me mate. I don’t really like him that much. He is a good player but his theatrics are a disappointing

  2. Jay wire

    17 October 2009 at 22:55


  3. Grognard

    18 October 2009 at 00:22

    @Gabriel: I do not believe the league is improving one bit. I think the big four are regressing and bringing the rest closer to them. And I’m not cynical, I’m honest and truthful. If you and some others can come away from this game feeling joy and contentment, all the power to you. I on the other hand reserve the right to expect and demand more from my club. If that’s cynical, then i don’t know the meaning of the word. I would call that be demanding and a perfectionist.

    And I underplay some of the good performances simply because all they did never led to any goals.

  4. Grognard

    18 October 2009 at 00:25

    @Jay wire: I agree. The bottom feeders of Spain and Italy are not as prone to parking the bus and playing long direct balls to one lone striker a million miles away like they do in England. They show a little more creativity and enterprise and although i do not think they are a lot better than say Wolves, they play the game properly and do not live and die for the single point.

  5. Anders

    18 October 2009 at 01:11

    Agree with Grognard that this was a pretty shite performance overall. Started well in both halves, but petered out badly, and the way we almost imploded the last 15 mins was frankly embarrassing. We just couldn’t (ord didn’t want to) deal with Boltons physical presence in the air. Vidic would have flattened Kevin Davies early and saved us his pestering.

    Rio looked very cautious and almost scared to get into any sort of trouble, hoofing the ball clear at any chance. I think he could have got to Neville’s poor ball leading to the goal if he wasn’t so wary of fucking up again. The goal shouldn’t have stood btw as Taylor had his arm on Evra’s shoulder but you gotta take those on the chin.

    Van der Sar was lucky to get away with the disallowed goal as Gardner got to the ball head first, but it then struck his hand. Basically VDS missed it completely.

    Fletcher and Rooney badly missed, even though Fletcher often does a Carrick and goes hiding in games like these. Ronney, even off-form, would have seen us running on fumes and at least made an effort to do something about it.

    Berbatov and Giggs majestic at times, and Valencia was quite good too. Owen mostly made a mess of his opportunities, like getting in the way of Berba’s goalbound (?) scissorkick. He even fucked up on the first goal only to be saved by Knight’s fumbling; poor header in a good position. Another poor first touch on Berba’s wonderful backflick just sums him up today. Good ball that set up Valencia for a run on goal though.

  6. Orez

    18 October 2009 at 05:31

    I am really shocked. This place used to be a very positive blog, but man so much negativity when we went back on the top of the league is just unbelievable.
    I thought this was a very good game, by our players and I thought all of them did well. Ok, Owen could have and should have done better with the opportunities he got, but he tried really hard and was able to get into good positions and he just needs to keep it up and he will score many goals. I was very delighted by Neville’s performance. Our wing play was really good on both sides. We have created many great opportunities and if it was not for Jaskalaynes brilliance, we would have been 4 or 5 up. The best player for me was Berba and Valencia. Giggs, Evra and Anderson should be mentioned too. Defense was fine too. The problem started when Bolton realized that without Vidic we are really bad in the air and they started shooting long balls and flood out penalty box. This is where we started having problems and were cornered and with a bit luck Bolton could have got something out of the game. This however doesn’t mean that our guys were shit, just that Bolton played well to their strengths. If we had scored our chances this wouldn’t even matter. All in all like someone already said we played like a real team. Valencia and Berba had really good games, Carick and Ando were good too. We should not forget that we lost the best player but we are still able to compete. None of the other top 4 could have done it. I can’t change how people think, but I just wanted to state that I am very positive and the team can only get better. When Rooney get’s some kick up is butt (yep I am not happy with him), when Vidic and Hargo are back and when Scholes remembers his young years just like Giggs, nobody will stop us :mrgreen:

  7. Red Ranter

    18 October 2009 at 06:01


    I am really shocked. This place used to be a very positive blog, but man so much negativity when we went back on the top of the league is just unbelievable.

    Being shocked is human emotion. So there’s nothing wrong with what you’re going through. You are entitled to be shocked and incredulous occasionally in life.

  8. Echo

    18 October 2009 at 09:53

    Hey guys, I’ve been following this blog for about an year now. I just love reading all the colorful comments you guys put up. But I am always too lazy to post. I guess I’ll never understand why Grog is always pissed at the club he loves and the obsession Eddy has with Ando. 😉

    Just wanted to congratulate RR for the Telegraph’s top 10 placing. 🙂

    I also want to pitch my 2 cents in. Go easy if you guys don’t agree. 😆

    Does anybody else think the reason Valencia was so good in this game (i’m comparing his today’s performance with his previous performances and not with Ronaldo’s) is because it was Nev playing RB and not O’Shea?
    Agreed, Nev made mistakes defensively, but on the attack, the link up play was tonnes better than usual.

    Just hope Rafael starts playing regularly.

  9. Dan

    18 October 2009 at 09:55

    In November 1959 Shankly was approached by two men at the end of a Huddersfield game. One was Tom Williams, the Liverpool chairman, the other Harry Latham, a director. “How would you like to manage the best club in the country?” asked Williams. “Why?” Shankly replied, sharp as ever. “Is Matt Busby packing it in?” A few days later, Shankly was unveiled as Liverpool’s new manager.

  10. Red Ranter

    18 October 2009 at 10:08

    @Dan: 😆 That’s a fantastic anecdote. Is this from a new book or something?

    Edit: Ah, nevermind. Here

  11. Red Ranter

    18 October 2009 at 10:08

    Also, match report up.

  12. Grognard

    18 October 2009 at 17:52

    @Echo: Why am I always pissed off at my team mate? Because I want from United what Barcelona fans got from there team the whole of last season. Near perfection. Over 100 goals in their league and the Champions League too boot. And they entered that final and won it with class, not by playing the chicken shit football that we so often display. What exactly would you call the football we displayed after Bolton got their goal yesterday? That for me is not why I am a United fan. By the way, I’m not always pissed of and there have many a time I was quite happy and delighted. But it won’t be anytime this season.

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