Our heroes have made a pleasing habit of dispelling various hoodoos in recent months, and the latest to present itself is a ten-year drought against the eleven men of Manchester United and their various assistants in black. Over the last year or so we have torn apart some of the cream of Europe, with United’s the only scalp now missing, and while unbeaten our visitors have looked far from invincible to date this season.Traditionally we tend to use this opportunity to watch Giggs or Scholes run rings around us, but in terms of personnel we can fancy our chances of winning the midfield battle today, for VDV was born for precisely this sort of grand occasion, and Modders is in the form of his life. Moreover, aside from the glamour brought by these chaps, our cause has been bolstered no end by the return of Daws to defence in recent weeks. Was the ever a better set of reasons to rub one’s hands in gleeful anticipation?
‘Arry has been in bullish mood in the press conferences this week, but today’s teamsheet ought to give a clue as to quite how cavalier he intends to be this afternoon. Having stopped and started throughout the season so far Defoe is now back in contention, while Crouch for all his faults has turned into a regular manna-provider for VDV, so our glorious leader must decide between one or t’other. He might even, in the name of the most dreamy form of attacking kamikaze, pick both these two in attack, with VDV shoved into a midfield role somewhere, but one suspects that our approach will be a more conservative 4-4-1-1. The choice of central midfield partner for Modders will also give a hint of ‘Arry’s intentions, Sergeant Wilson representing the more cautious option, Jenas the more adventurous. L
Lose – or even draw – today and the semi-serious title chuntering will have to stop, but our heroes now tend to rise to these big occasions at the Lane.