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Moyes’ future up in the air?

rp_stoke-200x2001-200x2001-200x200-200x200.jpg“These are wonderful times to be a Manchester United fan, particularly as the Reds look to clinch their 20th title when Aston Villa visit Old Trafford tomorrow.” No, I haven’t lost my marbles – not all of them anyway – I simply thought that nothing would illustrate how far we’ve fallen this season as the different circumstances surrounding this fixture eight months ago, hence the choice to recycle a line from last season.

In April, Aston Villa were nothing more than a sparring partner for United, a side that could have delayed our 20th title but chose not to and were blown away in just over 30 minutes, as United rubber stamped their league triumph.

Tomorrow, Villa could well be the latest side to benefit from United’s dismal campaign and will face a club that is, by all accounts, on the verge of being officially in turmoil. Whereas last season Villa fans and players had to look on as scarves and flags made their way onto the pitch as United celebrated the title, tomorrow a different kind of treat will be in store for them, with a plane carrying a banner “Wrong One – Moyes Out” set to fly above Old Trafford just before kick-off.

David Moyes is indeed the “wrong one”, but attaching a banner demanding he’s sacked to a small aircraft is not going to solve anything and, more worryingly, will make us look incredibly small time. On Tuesday, Moyes said we should aspire to be like City, but he shouldn’t have bothered: some of our fans have already bridged the gap, it seems.

To each their own anyway, but while anything that goes against the self-appointed fans’ spokesman’s will – for those who ignore his identity, he’s the man responsible for “The Chosen One” banner – should be praised, this initiative could really make us all look like a bunch of clowns – incidentally, a feeling we’ve become accustomed to this season.

Away from the skies, United have a game of football to deal with and one that they must win, if nothing else to give themselves a little breathing space ahead of judgement day on Tuesday, when Bayern are likely to hammer the final nail in Moyes’ coffin with a mixture of Catalan flair and German efficiency.

After the second derby day shellacking of the season, Moyes can either rest some of his players ahead of Tuesday or he can stick with them, hoping they’ll offer a reaction of sorts.

Juan Mata – the once brilliant playmaker who by now must surely be wondering what he got himself into when signing for United – is cup-tied and therefore likely to start tomorrow, with Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young deployed alongside him behind Wayne Rooney, the only man who looked to care a bit during the derby.

It’d be sensible to field Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley tomorrow, if nothing else to spare them an almighty embarrassment against Bayern, though such a dynamic duo in midfield would probably ruin everyone’s weekend by 1pm tomorrow. Though he didn’t cover himself in glory, Cleverley was decent on Tuesday night, but he was played completely out of position, while Fellaini was his usual useless self.

Nemanja Vidic returns from suspension and will take his place in the back four, while Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are still out and will miss the opportunity of seeing Christian Benteke running riot.

United swept Villa aside in December and given Villa’s erratic form this season the Reds remain favourite ahead of tomorrow, but this season has taught us to expect the unexpected and it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see United stumble to another poor result tomorrow.

One thing is certain: should we beat Villa, talking about having turned a corner would be as ridiculous as flying a banner over Old Trafford.

Probable starting XI:

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Dan