Tuesday night sees us heading to Old Trafford for a Carling Cup quarter final and a game which, on paper anyway, is our best opportunity of beating Man United for years. The fact that weâ€™re currently playing some of the most confident football around added to the likelihood that theyâ€™ll put out a below strength side means that theyâ€™re there for the taking surely? If Besiktas can overcome their wannabes and past its, thereâ€™s no reason why we canâ€™t.
Itâ€™s not as straightforward as that though of course. Redknapp will be tempted to rest as many players as he can given that December is due to be a busy month leaguewise. So far in the competition weâ€™ve also put out â€˜Bâ€™ teams and whilst itâ€™s been good enough to get us comfortable wins over Doncaster, Preston and Everton, whether the likes of Pavlyuchenko, Bentley, Bale and Hutton are capable of seeing off a United second string is open to doubt. What eleven we field and how we play is going to be entirely dependant on Harryâ€™s attitude and the confidence he has in our background players. Can he see the Wembley arch glinting in the February sunshine or does he view the possibility of extra games as a nuisance at a time when all of a sudden weâ€™ve become everyoneâ€™s team most likely to snaffle a top four spot? The good start to the league season is behind us and weâ€™ve now begun the process of following up with a good middle bit, not something that the manager will want to endanger.
Our record at Old Trafford is as dismal as they come. Weâ€™ve lost eighteen times there since our last win in December 1989. We shouldâ€™ve won in 2005 when Pedro Mendesâ€™ goal wasnâ€™t allowed to stand despite the ball crossing the line so far Roy Carroll needed to catch a bus to get it out of the back of the net. Mark Clattenburg was in charge that night, as he is for this game. Man Utd are the only team to beat us in a domestic cup game since we lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup in March 2007. Weâ€™ve been beaten by them in the FA Cup for the last two seasons and in the final of this competition in February of course. Hopefully weâ€™ve been practicing our penalties this time around.
With an allocation of up to 9,000 tickets, whatever team we put out is going to get great backing. As I said at the beginning this is an excellent chance to get through a difficult tie but weâ€™ll need to be at our best as no doubt whoever Ferguson actually starts with, as in the final last year, heâ€™ll have a few weapons on the bench ready to launch should things look like theyâ€™re going against him. It should be a top game and given the entertainment & anticipation that the trips to Wembley have provided in the last couple of years should be one we try wholeheartedly to win and weâ€™ve every chance of doing just that.
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