The last time we played Man United at Old Trafford our young guns, after a good and swift recovery from the league cup final defeat, were supposedly being given a stage on which to display the talents that might make them surprise contenders for the Moneybags League places come the end of the season. It didn’t go well. Fellaini was given the freedom of the inside left channel and we might as well have had Clarke, Rogers and Warner in defence the amount of times we were caught out at the back. Ah well.
Times have moved on again. Tomorrow’s game is almost a match up of the reckless and the frugal. The aforementioned be-afroed Belgian is nowhere near the Man United first team squad currently with Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger (if he’s fit) and Carrick (?) expected to form an experienced base whilst Depay, Potatohead and Young attempt to do damage ahead of them. Darmian will provide some long awaited quality at right back whilst Shaw has laid off the pies enough to claim a place on the left of what probably remains their most obvious weak spot, some combination of Jones, Smalling, Blind and Evans in the middle.
Our changes are mostly defence based of course but how many new faces we’ll see start the game I’m not sure. Given the big hole in the middle of Vorm’s chest I suspect they’ll risk Lloris with Walker, Rose, Vertonghen and Alderweireld in front of him. Bentaleb and Dier (is he really mobile enough for this position?) will be in the middle with Kane, Eriksen, Chadli and Dembele up front. Wimmer, Trippier, Lamela, Mason, Coulthirst and Alli may well be the outfield players on the bench but of that lot only Alli provides a goal threat rather sadly.
So here we go again, another journey of yet unknown highs and lows awaits. At its best the squad of last season gave us as fans a connection we’d not had for a while. The youth and enthusiasm and the identification of Spurs as the club they supported and wanted to play for made the success of Mason, Bentaleb and of course Kane all the more thrilling and helped us to feel part of it all instead of just consumers. I’ve rarely been so proud of the team as when we saw off the gooners on February 7th and that was down to the homegrown foundations of the win as well as the late drama. With Alli already impressing, Carroll back in the fold and Pritchard waiting in the wings this season promises once again to be as much about the potential triumph of youth over cynicism as last year was – that’s if things go well of course.
Old Trafford – scene of two wins in the past three years of course – is as good a place to get the wheels of this youth fuelled optimism off to a good start. Get some service to Kane, keep calm at the back, Dier out-Carricks Carrick and you never know.
Jonathan Moss is the referee. COYS.
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