Happily I still support a team with a chance of making it to Athens, there is huge hill still to climb and a lot of work to do before we get there but we are progressing well and we must be happy. I did say I would be okay with exiting Europe so that it gave us chance to focus on the league, but thankfully the team were happy to take on the added pressure and I’m not exactly disappointed with the way things went on Tuesday. Everyone knows and anyone will tell that Manchester United are a team that is forever making things hard for themselves. Champions League Tuesday, VERY important, Champions League Wednesday EXTREMELY important, and as if to sum up the manic season this Saturday gives us absolutely no chance to take our foot off the pedal.
At times with all these fixtures are backs have been to the wall, with seemingly no chance of escape, yet there we are conjuring up not only an equaliser but a winner of epic proportions. We have a second string defence, no offence intended, key players have been dropping like Saving Private Ryan extras and lesser players have really stepped up to the plate. This is good because we need them to, even Darren Fletcher has ‘become’ during this time. I’ve never rated Darren Fletcher above the understudy role that he plays but you cannot fault the guy on recent performances – we needed him and he has come through.
This epic season now delivers us to Goodison and THE game as far as I am concerned. The Derby game will take care of itself and the Chelsea game too, the West Ham game will have the home crowd behind them so this stop on Merseyside is crucial. Sir Alex Ferguson said recently, “If the players don’t smell the scent of something big in their lives now then they never will. It’s a great opportunity for them.”
The time for taking the pressure off them is done, there IS pressure and we need it, because that is when we seem to perform best, almost like the hardest route to success makes the success all that sweeter. The team have pressure on them, and yet manage to play as if there is none. The way the team is at the moment they almost inspire more confidence of victory by going a goal down more than taking an early lead. Early leads for us seem to inspire the opposition to start playing, and Everton are a team that need no such invitation. On Saturday if we happen to take an early lead there will be no strolling around and we will need to push for another from kick off.
Both teams have something to play for, Everton need to cement Europe and won’t give us an easy time. Their fans will also look at the returning Wayne Rooney because for their fans that is a pain that will never go away, right or wrong they are reminded of his departure every time he scores for us and certainly every time he returns to Merseyside. Let us not forget also that Everton’s defence has been impressive and the partnership of Yobo and Lescott is a key factor in the team’s success this season. Dare I say it their defence is looking stronger than ours in terms of confidence and stability but our forward line is to die for, which Everton, if AJ does not appear, cannot claim. Everton should also be inspired to play in the memory of their midfielder Alan Ball who sadly lost his life this week. Black armbands all round for the original ginger midfield imp. We’ve acknowledged the return of Rooney to Everton, yawn, but lets also acknowledge that he will be going their with great personal confidence after his performance on Wednesday night. A return to his first club could not have come at a better time.