After conceding two late goals at Goodison Park on Saturday, Manchester United have to pick themselves up for a ‘Battle of Britain’ Champions League tie against Glasgow Rangers who visit Old Trafford later this evening in the opening match of Group C.
Absent on Saturday, all eyes will be on Wayne Rooney once more. The striker is in line to return to the side after being left out for fear of abuse from Everton fans. That was the official party line, but many feel he was being punished by Sir Alex Ferguson for his recent misdemeanours, all of which we are aware.
Rooney should be looking to prove it was wrong to leave him out thus putting in a strong performance against the Scottish champions, something Sir Alex expects he will do, “We’re expecting a good performance from Wayne,” commented the Scot.
Another player looking to get back into the side is Rio Ferdinand who has recovered from a knee injury that ruled him out of the side. But he now feels back to his best,
“I have been training full pelt with the team the last two weeks and played a reserve game the other day and feel good,” said Ferdinand,
“I just enjoyed being out there, putting the shirt on and smelling the cut grass again.”
Though Michael Carrick is definitely out with an ankle injury.
Fergie may look to give a few of the fringe players a competitive match, we may also see the return of Anderson, who could recover in time from the knock that kept him out of the Everton match, Berbatov may drop to the bench to allow Javier Hernandez his first European start.
Rangers defenders Steven Whittaker and Kirk Broadfoot are both doubtful with respective calf and ankle injuries. While recent signing Nikica Jelavic is ineligible.
But their main threat will come fro striker Kenny Miller who has found the net 6 times in four SPL games this year, though he find chances are few and far between at Old Trafford as he will no doubt be operating as a lone striker.
Walter Smith is hopeful his charges can cause an upset,
“We have to do as well as we can. We have to recapture the level of form of a few years ago,” Smith told reporters.
“Everybody sets out to do as well as they possibly can and that’s what we will be trying to do.
“Quite a number of our lads had a decent run in the Champions League and just failed to qualify in the last game to stay within the Champions League and we managed to get to the final of the UEFA Cup.
“That was a big thing for us then and gave everyone, including myself, a great deal of experience in the European arena so hopefully we will be able to use that.”
It may be interesting to see who Ferguson appoints as captain with the recent announcement that Gary Neville will no longer be captain on match days.
“We thought we should have a consistent captain and Gary agrees with me on this. If he was available all the time, he would still be the captain and he would have been captain on Saturday, but injuries have prevented from him playing every week.” Sir Alex commented
Interestingly, Rangers failed to win any of their six games in the competition last season and have not won any of their last 10 Champions League games, losing seven times. While United will be looking to register their 150th win in European football in 279 games.
Prediction: 4-0 United
Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Anderson, Park; Hernandez, Rooney
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