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Preview - Derby County v Manchester United
Preview - Derby County v Manchester United
Friday, 14th Mar 2008 11:44

Roll up, Roll up. For one day only at Pride Park in Durrby, the Champions of England give it up for MaaaaanChessster Yoooonited!!!!!

Derby County v Manchester United
Premier League
15th March, 2008, 3:00 pm
Pride Park, Derby

You’d be forgive for thinking that Manchester United were coming to Derby for the first time ever in history for some of the marketing of this game.  Okay the club is in business to make money but the primary reason most of us go to Pride Park is to see DCFC. As someone gruffly put it on another site; “And personally Tom I don't care how special it is that Man Utd are at Pride Park on Saturday, it would mean the same to most of us if it was Swansea.”

There are several executive packages on the official site that are ostensibly aimed at Derby fans yet in reality are only likely to appeal to glory hunting Manchester United fans. Would you pay £1000 to be part of an honour guard for possibly the worst team in Derby County’s history? No me neither. Would it appeal to a wealthy Manchester United fan? Probably.

Football is an odd game when you think about. Imagine going to the theatre and finding the star performer replaced by an understudy? Yet the vast majority of Derby fans would be happy if Ronaldo, Tevez & Rooney were given the day off tomorrow.

That would be one in the eye for the glory hunting fans sitting among the home support or offering an honour guard onto the pitch.

I don't include tha vast majority of the Mancester United travelling faithful in the above category. The United travelling faithful are proper fans in every sense of the word - much like our own.

There probably isn’t anyone on the planet expecting a Derby victory tomorrow. Mark Lawrenson is typical when he says; “Manchester United will go there, probably rest one or two players and still have a side packed with match-winners, and win this one comfortably.”

One person who will not take a Manchester United victory for granted is Sir Alex Fergusson. There was no disguising sir Alex’s anger after the shock defeat by Portsmouth last week. Although he’s now been called to the FA to explain his comments, there’s little doubt that his players will have taken his anger on board and probably won’t want to feel the sharp edge of his tongue again.

Current Manchester United Squad

No. Position Player
1 Keeper  Edwin van der Sar
12 Keeper  Ben Foster
29 Keeper  Tomasz Kuszczak
38 Keeper  Tom Heaton
2 Defence Gary Neville (captain)
3 Defence Patrice Evra
5 Defence Rio Ferdinand
6 Defence Wes Brown
15 Defence Nemanja Vidić
19 Defence Gerard Piqué
22 Defence John O'Shea
25 Defence Danny Simpson
27 Defence Mikaël Silvestre
4 Midfield Owen Hargreaves
7 Midfield Cristiano Ronaldo
8 Midfield Anderson
11 Midfield Ryan Giggs (vice-captain)
13 Midfield Park Ji-Sung
16 Midfield Michael Carrick
17 Midfield Nani
18 Midfield Paul Scholes
24 Midfield Darren Fletcher
33 Midfield Chris Eagles
9 Striker  Louis Saha
10 Striker  Wayne Rooney
21 Striker  Dong Fangzhuo
32 Striker  Carlos Tévez
47 Striker  Danny Welbeck

Last 5 games

Lyon 1-1 Man Utd
Newcastle 1-5 Man Utd
Fulham 0-3 Man Utd
Man Utd 1-0 Lyon
Man Utd 0-1 Portsmouth

Danger Men

Before the Chelsea game, I commented that their leading scorer Frank Lampard had only managed six league goals. He got another four with ease. If Manchester United’s leading scorer does something similar, he will score 9 or 10 times!

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 21 league goals from midfield for the Reds and is the Premiership’s leading scorer. Even the most passive of armchair supporters will be aware of the Portuguese winger. His ball skills are a joy to watch and unlike many other tricky wingers of the past, he has a shot on him and an eye for goal that most strikers would die for.

What doesn’t come across when watching him on match of the day is his pace, work rate and physique. He’s six foot one and well built and not easy to knock off the ball. Add to that the fact that he is two footed and it’s fair to say both Marc Edworthy and Jay McEveley are probably having sleepless nights. 

Ronaldo has the ability to achieve his long term goal of being the best player in the world.

It would sound churlish to go on about his diving etc. but one incident stood out at the home game. We were already pretty much a beaten side when we conceded the late penalty at Old Trafford. Ronaldo had been pretty quiet in the game however he insisted on taking the penalty despite the fact that Carlos Tevez only needed one more goal for a hat-trick. That summed up the man for me.

Ben Foster will be making his debut in goals following Tomasz Kuszczak’s dismissal last week. For all the efforts we get on goals, Fergie would be as well playing himself or leaving Rio Ferdinand between the sticks

Giggs & Saha are both doubtful while Gary Neville, although back in training, is still a few weeks away from the first team squad.

The Rams

Paul Jewell after the Chelsea match;

"We are going to have to grit our teeth until next season now. The players tried their best, but as a group they just cannot compete with teams like these and this pace, they are playing at a different level to us. It is difficult to watch. It's a great league to be in if you are competitive, but there's no hiding place."

Tried their best? That isn't the opinion of the long suffering supporters who made it to Stamford Bridge. It's also not the opinion of legendary Chelsea hard man Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris.

"That group of players are an embarrassment to themselves and a disgrace to their football club, to accept their wages after performing as terribly and as spinelessly as they have is a joke. They were the worst side I have ever seen at Stamford Bridge. You have to feel sorry for the fans, paying to see that rubbish every week. They don't seem to care about the club or their professional pride. I think they should pay the fans to come to the rest of their games - it's the least the players can do after being so poor for so long."

Harsh words but actually printable unlike many of the summary's I've heard from fans at Stamford Bridge.

Equally as telling is this little gem from Mile Sterjovski; "We did get a backlash and I don't think we were prepared for it. If we'd been fully prepared and put the effort in we could have got a better result. But after a result like that, it hurts a lot."

Weren't prepared for a backlash? What planet are these players from? You should have asked one of the supporters in the stand what you were likely to be up against Mile. If you ask on Saturday you'll hear them telling you Manchester United are a better side than Chelsea and they are smarting from a cup exit as well. They have several good players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand.

Cards on the table, I think that Paul Jewell is the man to take the club forward. Having said that, he needs to put himself in the fans position.  I think he's a Liverpool fan; how would he feel if Rafael Benitez said that Liverpool couldn't compete with Arsenal & Manchester United? That Barcelona & Real Madrid were playing "at a different level?"

We aren't expecting to beat the likes of Chelsea or Manchester United. We do expect our players to do their absolute best. The fact is that some of the players have given up and aren't giving their all and that is why the fans are disgruntled and you may hear them booing on Saturday.

Mick's Team: With a few notable exceptions, most of the current squad are not fit to wear the white shirt of Derby County. I therefore refuse to pick a team.

Squad: Carroll, Edworthy, Stubbs, Leacock, Moore, McEveley, Sterjovski, Ghaly, Earnshaw, Savage, Pearson, Lewis, Miller, Price, Villa.

What the Bookies think

The odds on Shergar winning the Grand National with Elvis riding him are slightly more favourable than the Rams winning this one. You can get 14/1 on the Rams but be warned, The Bookies will pass your details on to the Men in White Coats and you’ll be carted off to the funny farm.

Manchester United are at 1/7 on and the draw is 9/2. 0-6 to Manchester United is 33/1, and a Ronaldo hat-trick is 16/1. Worth a double up?

You can get 150/1 on a Kenny Miller hat-trick.

Information for travelling fans

Drinking: There are very few pubs very close to the ground but if you come by train, the locale around the station is fairly inviting. The Crown and Cushion at the junction of London Rd always seems to be full of away supporters. The Brunswick is a must for any real ale fans and the Alexandra next door is my personal favourite. Fans tend to mingle in these pubs and as long as you’re not being aggressive, the atmosphere is good. The Waterfall opposite the station is okay as well. If you are driving, the Navigation Pub on London Rd opposite the parking area is your best bet.

Driving: Manchester to Derby is about 80 miles. Take the M6 then head south until J16 or J15 (not much in it) then A500 to the A50 through Stoke. Follow the A50 to Derby and stay on it until the turn off for Alvaston. There will be traffic around Alvaston however if you stay on London Rd you can get to the parking areas described below. Traffic on the M6 will be the key factor in arrival times but I usually make this journey in less than two hours.

Of course more than a few of you live nearer to Pride Park than I do. So you probably already know the way.

Parking: It used to be at the old Wilmorten College site however that is now a building site so away fans should park at Catalyst on London Rd opposite the Navigation pub. It’s about 10-15 minutes from the ground. Don’t be tempted to park at Pride Park shopping centre unless you fancy being clamped. You can also park for a £5 at the hospital further up London Rd near the hospital and the Railway station. Another alternative is to take the Derby Ring road towards the City Centre and pass the exit for Pride Park on Brian Clough Way (A52) and head for Pentagon Island.  Take the first exit and turn left and after a few hundred yards you will come to The Cattle Market Car Park. It’s about 10 minutes walk to the ground from here.

Mick’s Prediction

We’re going to lose and what’s more we’ll probably be humiliated. And after the game Paul Jewell's comments will be:

“the fans were amazing, they deserve better, they're part of the reason I came here...we make some incredible basic errors...we've got a big job ahead but the squad will be completely changed next year...we just want the season over with..."

Photo: Action Images

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