Rooney after LeedsAfter Manchester United’s spineless performance against City in the match that marked the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, I was absolutely livid with the players. Whilst of course I always want to see United win, it would be ridiculous to expect United to win every game. I also don’t expect us to win every important game, regardless of how much we crave it. But I do expect them to show up. I do expect them to play with a bit of pride. I do expect them to look like they want to win, even if on the day they can’t.

Walking back to the car park, ranting about how shit it was, I repeatedly told my dad that they were going to have to come up with something pretty fucking special to make up for this disappointment and hurt. People talked about the occasion being too much for them. Bollocks. A team made up of returning players from Munich and Reserves managed to beat Wednesday 3-0 in the FA Cup in our first match after the disaster. With some of their team-mates dead, their manager on death’s door in hospital, Duncan Edwards still fighting for his life, amongst others, they managed to show up. So don’t give me a load of bollocks about the occasion being too much for them against City in 2008, because if it was, they are made of the wrong stuff!

Our players did us proud in the end though, winning the European Cup on the 50th anniversary of Munich and 40th anniversary of us first winning it, which yes, kind of was the something pretty fucking special we’d been looking for.

I suppose it’s quite impressive that almost two years have passed since I’ve felt that disappointed and angry with the team, but the defeat against Leeds really sent me over the edge. United have lost to lower league opposition before, that’s not such a concern, particularly with the “magic of the cup” and all that bollocks. All shit teams have the potential to be all great teams on their day. The fact was it was Leeds. Fucking dirty Leeds. We’d been buzzing over this game for weeks and when Ferguson picked an XI who had all started in the Premiership this season, we should have thumped them. At least looked good! But we looked shit and spineless and lacking passion and desire and fight, and all the things you want your team to possess when up against their biggest rivals.

Showing up for City in the first leg of the League Cup might have gone some way to healing the hurt, but that isn’t a possibility any more thanks to the snow. So our next match is Birmingham away and if we don’t come out all guns blazing, those players will have problems. As fans, of course you want to support your team, but it’s a two way thing. We can’t sit there singing our hearts out for them if they’re not even going to look arsed. So we need a convincing performance against Birmingham and I would expect three points.

But then this is the team that held Chelsea at home, drew with Liverpool away, and have a better defensive home record than us. They are 8th in the league, one point behind the team that were supposed to win the league this season, and are a pretty respectable eleven points behind us. They’re no mugs and they will see us as fair game after some of our and their results this season.

Which is why we need to come out playing well and showing we’re up for it. We’ve got some bloody brilliant players who are capable of doing all sorts of wonderful things, but that’s by the by for Saturday as far as I’m concerned. I want us working hard, fighting for possession, creating chances and scoring goals. If we can fit some beautiful stuff in there somewhere too, then great, but we need to play like Champions this weekend.

Van der Sar is on his way back, but it’s unclear what the manager thinks about our current goal situation. Kuszczak got the nod after some costly errors from Foster, so maybe now it’s time to swap back, I dunno. A back four of Rafael, Brown, Evans and Evra, a midfield of Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick and Giggs, with Rooney and Berbatov up front. The press claim that Fergie is ready to drop players this weekend though, which would mean Rooney, Berbatov and Giggs would all be missing due to their non-existent performance against Leeds, I doubt it though.

So no, a result against Birmingham won’t undo the unthinkable result of last weekend, but a good performance will start to mend the damage, as we aspire to begin our usual strong second half of the season run.


Read my interview with Birmingham blog Joys and Sorrows
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