Them And Us: Manchester Utd
Posted by Rushian on November 7, 2003, 04:15:35 PM
In a new feature to RAWK this season, we invite the oppositions leading fanzine and website editors to give their views on the upcoming match. In this, part 6 of the ongoing series, we hear the views of RedNews' Charles Bogle ahead of Sunday's game against Manchester United.
RAWK: How's the season been so far?
Charles: A mixed bag to be honest. We've obviously tried to rid ourselves of any depression over the sale over you know who - not that that many Reds were too bothered about his departure, though the press would have you believe otherwise - and all looked good when Ronaldo tore Bolton apart on the opening day.
Since then we've continued to type as we have these past few seasons. Winning in the league but looking more impressive - Stuttgart apart - in Europe. It's later on in the season that we've come a cropper there so I'd prefer scraping through and then hitting top form. The feeling remains that we'll need to beat Madrid to have any chance of winning the Holy Grail and at the moment, despite being strong odds to lift another Championship, we still look 2 or 3 players short.
But Fergie has made dramatic changes this past year - without really knowing it we've suddenly got a very young side together again so perhaps we should be a little less moany and wait for all the new lads to blood in. Despite a recent run of form by Diego, which few could have predicted, we badly miss a top
class striker alongside Ruud.
What are your expectations for this season?
Such are the times that have changed these past 10 years that, greedy or not, we now expect to see silverware each season. It can be greedy when we moan too much and forget how far we've come since the dark days (but although dark on the field, still a great time and craic off the pitch - many happy memories of pay on the day, no 11.30am kick-offs, ?49 match tickets, etc, etc) but by demanding much you up your sights.
We always want the league - and that showed the way we got ourselves back in it last year when the Arse looked like they had it in the bag. There's no denying though that we want European success. 1999 should have been the start of something. It hasn't and you can only look enviously as Real try for their 10th success.
What do these fixtures mean to Utd fans?
A lot! But times again have changed. When we sang You'll Never beat United at you at games like the 3-3 at Anfield when Strachan smoked that cigar it was the be all (as such) of our season not to lose to you.
This is obviously a massive city like fixture but Fergie changed the ethos. Treat every game as important (tinkering of team apart) as the last. They are still intense, and occasionally cracking yet despite all the changes there does seem to be something 'missing' in this fixture these days. It can be a tame atmosphere at times at either Old Trafford or Anfield, and I remember us winning 3-1 to basically help us to the league at one game in the mid 90s and the differences to April '92 were stark. It's obviously a misnomer to think that every game in the 70s and 80s at grounds was a buzzing atmosphere but some games at every club are quiet. Early kick-offs whatever, it can be stale.
Sad really. But then at home to Rangers and you see how loud things can be and you just want it like that every week.
How's your new 'No 7' measuring up, compared to the previous incumbent?
He looks good. But he's young and I think he's had too much expectation on his shoulders.
We've changed our game with less relliance on the right since Becks left - but he definitely has something about him that could come off. Becks looks like he's doing well in Spain but as I mentioned earlier, the circus around him was just beginning to get on everyone's tits. Nobody is bigger than any club they play for - and I think to some extent he was starting to believe the hype around him. There was a lot of spin about his sale and I doubt many Reds feel he was as betrayed over his sale as he made out in his book (written by an Arsenal fan). It was good for us to sign (Ronaldo) someone that everybody in Europe was chasing.
What sort of line-up can we expect on Sunday?
Well Diegio's played himself into the side so it'll probably be 4-4-2, just as we were starting to get used to the 4-5-1 system! To be fair Phil Neville has had a player transplant and is totally different to the one he once was - he's confident and does a good job in the middle. Some people wrote off Keano after we were knocked out by Madrid but we knew the score - he has been immense this year and Fortune since he moved to left back looks the part. Howard has been the best of the new signings and Ruud has improved with each month, he is now world class, and we haven't had a striker like that since King Denis. We miss Scholes, obviously, but you've got to take the injuries, "that's football" and all that cliches. I'll refrain from may the best team win...
Who do you think is your most important player(s)?
Keano, Scholes and Ruud. Giggsy these days can be hit and miss but the opposition don't see him every week so are so concerned that his mere presence usually takes two players covering him, creating space for others.
I know your fans don't like him - a bit like us with Gerrard - but Gary Neville is the heart and soul of the side. He adds something just by his United-ness and every side needs that local spirit and pride in playing for the club. Without that you are just another Chelsea. Who really cares if you lose on a Tuesday night in January?
Your worst player(s)?
Again how times have changed from when we were going without for so long. We used to slate players, really level abuse at them. Now we moan - and as I said it can be a lot, too much - but it's nothing compared to when you're not winning things.
Diego smiles, tries his hardest but is he good enough? If he doesn't make it now he never will but other than that you can see the potential in all of them. Well, saying that Bellion looks like we should give him a free
transfer to the GB olympic 100 meter squad - what pace, but he doesn't know what to do with it.
Kleberson has got slated but he's only played 3 games. You've got to give these players time. Though did he really win the World Cup with Brazil!?
Any rough diamonds about to make a name for themselves?
Fletcher, Eagles and as good a crop of youngsters coming through as we've had in a while. Great to see. Got to have that youth element coming through.
Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?
Owen, obviously, but you'd know more about how all these injuries and their stop start nature affect his form. Gerrard - one of those Whiteside characters who you dislike when he's not in your side but would want if he were one of your own.
And your thoughts on Anfield?
Hard to say really as it's only the one visit a season. It can be a belter of an atmosphere and then, like at Old Trafford, it can not.
We'll see on Sunday what passion can be created by fans and players of both sides and obviously it's a cracking rivalry. We want to stuff you and vice versa. But again if we're honest Paddy Crerand got it right today when he said, behind a lot of stuff we've got a bit in common - and that's probably why there is such a big rivalry. We try not to admit it but working class roots, being shat on by those in authority and outlook - there can be a lot of common ground.
But as I say, we both try to keep quiet about it don't we? Liverpool can be a belter of a night out and if you've had it yourself, so is Manchester. But it's the 90 minutes that matters.
Predicted score on Sunday?
Three points please. Cliche time but if we do our best, thats good enough for me. I do feel there is always scope for goals in these games.
Many thanks to Charles Bogle for his time in answering our questions. More news and views from a Utd perspective can be found on the RedNews website, at http://ww.rednews.co.uk/
? Charles Bogle/RAWK 2003
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