Football clubs need big squads if they are going to compete for all four trophies, we all know this. Back in 98-99, the best season any English club has enjoyed in the history of the game, you didn’t even had to think about which eleven players we would start, particularly for the big game. When Ryan Giggs started the Champions League final on the right wing and David Beckham played centrally, it was shocking. Obviously we were forced in to this predicament because of the suspensions of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, but it was so odd to see us line-up with different players and in different positions. It’s funny to think of that now, with Carrick regularly filling in at centre back, our wingers swapping sides all the time, last season’s top scorer sometimes dropping back to midfield, and us rarely playing the same eleven from one game to the next. From week to week, predictions of formations and players are more or less pointless, with it becoming near impossible.
For instance, who would have thought that away to Norwich, days before a meaningless Champions League group stage game, we would play Giggs in the centre of midfield. What an utterly bizarre decision. I’m not suggesting the game was lost because of this, as we had enough talent on the park to get a game won if we’d played properly, but it certainly doesn’t help. Why not play our strongest XI? Why start Giggs when Anderson and Cleverley are on the bench? We ended the game with two 38-year-olds on the pitch – what is that all about? Likewise, why did we play Carrick in the centre of defence against Galatasaray, knowing that top spot in the group was already secured, when we could have given priceless experience Scott Wootton?
So ahead of QPR there’s no point wasting too much time wondering what team the manager will pick. I’d love to see either Cleverley or Anderson starting so that we have a bit of tempo to our game. Paul Scholes is the best passer in the Premier League (fact! Don’t you just love the return of that word?) but we need to start thinking about the future. If Ferguson doesn’t think Cleverley or Anderson are good enough right now, they’re never going to be if they’re not given the chance.
Whilst we all may have been looking forward to singing “you’re getting sacked in the morning” to Mark Hughes, unfortunately QPR beat us to it, and sacked him. Losing the manager can sometimes rally the players, especially when the manager was as unsuccessful as Sparky was, which will make tomorrow more difficult than it would have been otherwise.
You still have to fancy United to get the three points though, whatever the line-up, and hope the sacked manager syndrome at Stamford Bridge leads to a galvanised Chelsea team, helping us to go back top of the league.