A lot of Manchester United fans around the world were not pleased by the performance in Lisbon on Wednesday night----and that is largely because the first four games of the season have spoiled us with the sort of entertainment that made us fall in love with United in he first place----Not me;
To be fair to Sir Alex and the team he selected, I thought there was no urgency at all to spend a lot of our energy and risk vital personnel for a Champions league Group stage game, in a group that we will, in all probability top. I mean you only have to look at last season's opener to know some of the permutations that were playing in Fergie's head. Antonio Valencia started that game against Rangers in the Champions League last season and broke a leg that ruled him out for 5 months. Given how Nani and Young have started the season, can you possibly imagine us going the next five months without Young. Its bad enough that we have lost Cleverely for a month so I thought the manager had a point in not including his vibrant blend on young talent in the squad when there is a need to put up a great performance on Sunday.
Secondly, Sir Alex has all of 30 gentlemen to employ at the club and yet he can only play 11 at a time. Given the great start by the young team to the EPL season, it was always going to be the case that the manager wold employ the same team for the Chelsea game having given the youngsters a breather in midweek.
People have to understand that the same formula will not take you places in this day and age. Whilst it would be great to watch the kids twice week, the manager knows the effect such a run could have on the side by April. Ref: Arsenal.
The only qualm I have with the manager is why he didn't give Berbatov a few minutes of pitch. I mean why play Rooney for the '90 when the Bulgarian is clearly a better lone striker given his hold up play and distribution?
So in my book, we did well to rest a load of players and yet still come away with a point in what will be our most difficult fixture in this group.
The 4-5-1 adopted by Sir Alex has been dubbed boring by many but its the reason we're statistically the most difficult team to beat in Europe.
So United, on the back of their firs criticism of the season, take on perennial rivals for the tile, Chelsea. Andres Villas Boas will become the 8th manager in 8 seasons at Chelsea that Sir Alex has shaken hands with. No doubt this fixture is the litmus test of AVB's reign at Chelsea and it could be the blue print that starts a memorable career.
On the other hand, Sir Alex will be desperate to turn on the pressure on him by outwitting him on Sunday. Whilst the result will not determine the destiny of the title, its is no doubt that neither team will want to lose ground at this stage of the season to their rival if only for the slightest of advantages.
The manager reported no new injuries from the game in Lisbon so that makes us essentially at full strength despite the absence of the captain Vidic, Cleverely and Welbeck. Chelsea played their Champions League game on Tuesday but it will be interesting to see who AVB goes with upfront, given the record Fernando Torres has against United and the form pf Danny Sturridge.
Its clear that Mr. Roman will judge his employee on his ability to overcome the best in Europe after this fixture so he'll send out his players for the win but I'm not so sure he'll be as disappointed as United if they don't come away with all three.
Chelsea are the only side that boast a better head to head record against United in the EPL but the Champions have since built a run of wins at Old Trafford, in all competitions, that stretches to April 2010. Chelsea were the last EPL team to come away with all three from the M16 so if anybody can break the jinx, its them.
A win for United would send out another statement to the rest of their rivals but more worryingly for Chelsea, would mean that United will go 5 points ahead of them in September.
So COME ON UNITED!