Another week, another managerial change.
Naturally, Ryan Giggs has stolen all of the headlines going into this game as he succeeds David Moyes in what many consider to be something of a poisoned chalice in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Giggs has already been ruled out of the running to take over permanently, but at least United will finish the season with a relative degree of unity amongst players and supporters again. It could prove to be a master stroke and help to lay the foundations for a revival in fortunes for the Premier League giants next season.
And that’s as far as I’ll go in discussing United’s headlines. After all, everyone else is talking about them, and as usual little old Norwich are an afterthought.
As a budding journalist I can’t exactly argue with the national media covering a big story about arguably the biggest club in world football. But if there’s one thing I dislike, it’s that to many we’re turning up as mere spectators.
It was the same last week as title-chasing Liverpool rolled into Norfolk. Carrow Road may as well have been Anfield. As Brendan Rodgers emerged from the tunnel, hordes of photographers and Sky cameramen surrounded his dugout. Neil Adams, by contrast, would’ve had to have taken a selfie to get his face out into the public sphere, because he may as well have not existed outside of the consciousness of his own supporters.
Thankfully, by the end of the 90 minutes Norwich had actually wrestled most of those headlines back from the Red men’s grasp. Yes, they went on to win as many expected, but in no way shape or form did Norwich roll over and let them do it easily.
As has been said already by Adams and the players, the same tempo needs to be sustained now for the last three games. At Old Trafford, at Stamford Bridge and at home to Arsenal.
We also can’t rest on our laurels and hope that our opponents won’t put in a shift if they have nothing riding on the game. United’s season is over, Chelsea might be out of the title race altogether by the time we play them (they may even rest players because of a potential Champions League final) and Arsenal may already have 4th place sewn up before the final day of the season (and they DO have a cup final to prepare for).
We’ve fallen into that trap in the past. Remember when Fulham had nothing to play for on that fateful day at the Cottage back in 2005?
Yeah, we can’t fall for something like that again.
Our approach has to be thus: Balls to the wall. Nothing less.
As Robert Snodgrass perfectly put it, this relegation battle will come down to who has the most desire and commitment. It’ll come down to who WANTS it the most.
The reactions of our players after the two recent defeats suggests to me that our players are well ahead of their rivals in that regard. There has always been a great unity and spirit within our squad. That’s not just hyperbole either; I’ve seen it first hand in the grounds of Colney itself. Don’t doubt any of that for a second.
Giggs’ first managerial outing is sure to provide an initial cauldron of noise at Old Trafford. But once that dies down I, along with a few thousand fellow Canaries, will outsing them every step of the way. That’s a promise.
Robin Van Persie is out of action with a knee problem, and defender Rafael is a doubt with a thigh poblem. Giggs would be eligible for selection because he’s still an active player.
Norwich are still without Joseph Yobo due to a calf problem, but Elliot Bennett is finally back in the first team squad after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.
Man United – Man City (L), Aston Villa (W), Bayern Munich (D), Newcastle (L), Bayern Munich (L), Everton (L)
Only two wins in United’s last six, and David Moyes’ reign finished with them getting eliminated from the Champions League and confirming that they’ll achieve their lowest ever Premier League points total.
Norwich – Southampton (L), Sunderland (W), Swansea (L), West Brom (L), Fulham (L), Liverpool (L)
Two gallant displays from the team under Neil Adams have at least boosted the confidence and attacking presence of the players, though one win in six is nothing short of relegation form.
Last time we met.
The North-West is cursed land in the eyes of many Norwich supporters, and our last two visits to Old Trafford illustrate why.
In the league, we last visited in March 2013, where a Sjhinji Kagawa hat-trick and a Wayne Rooney stunner left Chris Hughton’s side still in relegation trouble with a 4-0 drubbing. Little did we know it at the time, but it was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last games in charge of his club.
That same scoreline was attained by the hosts in the Capital One Cup 4th round tie back in October. Javier Hernandez opened the scoring with a dubious penalty (Leroy Fer was penalised for a soft foul) before doubling the advantage after half-time. Poor defending in the Norwich box (imagine that!) saw Phil Jones score a lethal volley from close range on 88 minutes, while Fabio came off the bench to put the icing on the cake.
But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom in our previous meetings with United, and last season’s 1-0 victory at Carrow Road – with thanks to Anthony Pilkington for his splendid header – will live long in the memory as one of the finer points of an otherwise tricky season.
Head to head stat
Norwich haven’t won at Old Trafford since 1989. Time to put that one to bed!
What’s in store this time?
Although some people hate waiting on other results and “cheering” for other teams, we desperately need Hull to pull a victory out of the bag during their trip to Craven Cottage on Saturday. And we need a Cardiff/Sunderland draw tomorrow in an ideal world.
But while those would obviously help, we should aim for nothing less than all three points at Old Trafford. Admittedly it’ll be a hard task now with the place lifted by Giggs’ temporary appointment, but it’s not a totally impossible task.
I, for one, am looking forward to the trip. I just hope it isn’t yet another miserable journey back from the North-West and that we come out of the game with something to show for it.