Posts Tagged ‘Fabio’
One of the transfer stories which has been rumbling on under the radar since what seems like the stone age is the possibility that Manchester United would sign a left-back. This in spite of the fact that, in Patrice Evra, we have one of the world’s best, and a ready made replacement champing at the bit in the form of Fabio da Silva.
Just over two weeks after Arsenal laughably ranted about winning an unprecedented quadruple, Manchester United are now closing in on the possibility of another famous treble. Of course, the toughest leg will be the Champions league which, should United progress past Marseille, will involve beating Real Madrid or Barcelona. The other teams in the quarter finals will be (or are likely to be) Shakhtar, Tottenham, Schalke, Chelsea and Inter or Bayern. Tough but winnable.
Of course, we need to get past Marseille first. With our path to the FA Cup now set in stone, and our fate in the league in our own hands, could our failure to get an away goal in Marseille cost us at home?
It could, but that’s without taking into account the fact that Marseille are a team in absolute disarray. One of their two main strikers, Brandao, has been fingered for rape and is not permitted to travel, so much will depend on the fitness of Pierre-Andre Gignac. It looks like he’s going to miss out, so Loic Remy and Benjamin Ayew will be the main threats, players we know little about.
There is also the little matter of a fit Valbuena to worry about. Little Matthieu might look like his head is way too big and his arms way too short, but he’s a top quality player and can hurt any team on his day. Let’s not forget what he did to the dippers.
Marseille also have a mean defence. They haven’t conceded a Champions League goal in bloody ages, about five hours, so if we think we’re just going to be able to knock them over at home then we have another thing coming.
None of this should detract from our own game plan, of course. We are on a high after our much needed win over Arsenal at the weekend, and with the return to fitness of Antonio Valencia, along with the unexpectedly rapid progress of Nani, we have the ingredients needed to beat Marseille, and comfortably.
Fletcher continues to be absent, but other than the usual long term absentees there are no other midfield issues as Carrick is fit. The improved performance of Darron Gibson on Saturday should see him retain his place, and one can only assume that the rest for Scholes means that he will be starting here. I also think Fabio should be retained from the start, keeping Tony available from the bench. The little Brazilian was a revelation on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney is showing signs of returning to his former glories, and Dimitar Berbatov, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be trusted in European games, so I’m not expecting to see him start. Nani’s remarkable return to fitness should see him start on the right.
The back five pick themselves, giving us the the team below, which I expect to see start tomorrow.
Marseille showed in the first leg that their main threat comes from pace down the flanks, so Rafael and Evra could be busy. Rooney, Fabio and Nani should be way too fast for a back line involving Gabriel Heinze, although our former player of the year did well in the first leg.
Five Cantonas Prediction
3-1. I think there will be an early scare when they equalise at 1-1, but we’ll pull away in the second half and grab a third when they’re chasing the game late on. Rooney, Gibson and… go on then, Valencia to score for us. Ayew for them.
It’s criminal that I have waited until now to pust a reaction peice to this game, given how brilliant it was, and how much there is to discuss. That’s what happens when you get ill, unfortunately. On the plus side, it’s given me a couple of days to chew over the game, and certain performances, and any jerking of the knee has long since calmed.
Without wanting to burst everyone’s balloon, we need to remember that this was just one game against the biggest bottlers of the Premiership era. Even Keegan’s Newcastle team only really bottled it once – Arsenal are serial bottlers, throwing away trophies left, right and center as soon as they are in any danger of winning them.
We will learn a lot more about how much we’re revitalized after the international break. Could it have come at a worse time? I fully expect us to ride the crest of the wave and sweep a crisis-torn Marseille side aside at Old Trafford and Bolton at the weekend, but we’d then absolutely love a run of Premiership games, thick and fast, to keep us interested, winning, and put the league beyond the reach of Arsenal and City.
Instead, we get to add a maximum of three Premiership points to our total before we have to watch a pointless England friendly against, of all people, Ghana, and what should be a walkover in qualification against Wales. Of course, given the privelage of seeing our Captain, Leader, Legend back in charge of the England side, so I should really be holding my tongue…
So, perhaps the most important game of the season now becomes our first game back, away at West Ham on Saturday lunchtime. Win that well, and we’re all set for the run-in. I can’t stress enough the importance of being clear by the time we have to play Arse and Chelsea.
Onto the Arsenal game itself. The first, and most obvious point, is that Fabio and Rafael were both absolutely outstanding. I think the fact that it was Tony who came on has let many people overlook the injustice of Fabio’s withdrawal at half-time, and I have no doubt that if Valencia wasn’t waiting in the wings for his comeback, he would have played most of the 90.
Fabio is showing the eye for goal that we were always told he had ever since Les Kershaw first slapped eyes on them. Both he and Rafael are also showing the versatility which will stand them in good stead at the club (case in point; John O’Shea) with their performance on the wing adding to Fabio’s stint in central midfield for the reserves, a position also occupied by Rafael for the first portion of the second half.
Most importantly, they add the same tenacity to the flanks as Park Ji-Sung does, but without sacrificing any of the attacking threat. Now, Park is far too good a player to consider shipping out, but Ferguson now has options as to who to play out wide when up against a Bale or Nasri figure. In addition, should Nani be injured, the flanks will have fluidity if the da Silvas occupy them, with Evra and Valencia both capable of filling both spots when the da Silvas push on or drop deep.
I can’t stress enough how promising the twin’s performances were, and quite how beneficial the increase in options we now have is.
I don’t want to upset my self by discussing this in too much depth, but Edwin van der Sar was awesome. I fully understand his decision to retire to look after his sick wife, and I’d prefer it if our fans let him be, because these chants asking him to stay can’t be helping.
It’s getting boring having to point this out every week, but Chris Smalling was again absolutely brilliant. Arsenal were restricted to a handful of second half chances, and you had to be paying rapt attention to notice the work of Smalling. Like all the great defenders he got everything done with the minimum of fuss, distributed well and restricted van Persie to just one chance in the first half.
Is it fair to suggest that normal service has now resumed from Wayne Rooney? The goals are flowing once again, his first touch is back, and he looks interested again. Keep it up Wayne. You’ll have to do an awful lot to win my affections back, but you’re certainly going the right way about it.
I’d also like to mention Darron Gibson, who was assured and capable in central midfield. In the absence of Carrick, I was fully expecting him to be scapegoated should we lose (even beyond the ranting that would have awaited Fergie for his team selection). Instead, Gibson looked comfortable on the ball and tenacious alongside the steady John O’Shea, who never looks overawed. Ever.
I was as horrified as the next man when I saw the team=sheet, but once again Fergie proves us all wrong. It was definitely an experiment, but it couldn’t possibly have gone any better. Roll on Tuesday.
Patrice Evra has comitted himself to the club until at least the end of the 2013/14 season. Evra, pictured left in convict mode, has been our best left back since Dennis Irwin, but rumours abounded that he was set to join Real Madrid in the summer.
This presumably means Evra will be staying, although should he leave, any fee we receive would now be inflated. It also presumably ends our interest in Emilio Izaguirre, given that we also have John O’Shea and Fabio who can play left-back, and neither are likely to be leaving.
Josh King scored a hat-trick in the Reserves 6-1 win over Rochdale in the Manchester Senior Cup. Ravel Morrison also got on the scoresheet in the progress, looking very useful coming off the bench. Given the trouble he seems to get himself in, this is the side of his game we will be hoping to see more of.
Fabio also scored a great goal in this game, and has been occupying a central midfield position for the reserves when he has played lately. He’s certainly got the attributes to play a tenacious box-to-box role, and I wonder if, given Patrice Evra’s pre-eminence at left back, this is where Fergie sees his future.
Fabio has always been supposedly the better of the two twins, but Rafael appears to have adapted better to first team life, no doubt in part due to not having a world-class France international to compete with for game time.