Preview: United v Reading

Nani v Reading

When Manchester United faced Reading at the Majesky in December the sides conceded seven goals between them in a little over 30 minutes. Little wonder that last month’s FA Cup tie at Old Trafford took more than an hour to spring to life, with the Reds eventually running out 2-1 winners as the sides scored three in the final 20 minutes. Yet, after traumatic defeat to Real Madrid last week, followed by a draw with Chelsea in the cup, Sir Alex Ferguson could hardly wish for better opponents than Reading this weekend.

Reading, second from bottom in the Premier League, arrive rudderless following Brian McDermott’s bizarre sacking by owner Anton Zingarevich this week. If ever a manager has become the victim of his own success, then McDermott is surely it after leading Reading to emphatic promotion last season.

The Berkshire side’s managerial loss is surely United’s gain though, with Academy Manager Eamonn Dolan leading the visitors at Old Trafford Saturday tea time. In the week that Ferguson called for United to be more ruthless in front of goal, the Reds will have few better opportunities to hammer home an advantage.

And with Manchester City facing Everton this weekend the opportunity is there for United to stretch a premier league lead to more than 12 points.

Yet, never slow to defend a fellow member of the managers’ union, Ferguson joined widespread bemusement at the timing of McDermott’s departure, with just 10 games to go in the Premier League season.

“Some things you can never understand and football is full of that and to sack Brian McDermott at this stage is strange to say the least,” Ferguson told the press on Friday.

“If they had done it in December or January maybe I would have understood it because he could have brought players in. Brian McDermott has done a good job given the outlay. He spent something like £1.2 million and got in £7.4 million and got them promoted to the Premier League. He was manager of the month in January – I hope I am not manager of the month this month.”

Still, Ferguson’s side takes on the Royals at the right time, with the Scot keen to kill off any talk of a slump in form following a testing fortnight. Fixtures against Reading, and then at relegation threatened Sunderland, in the next fortnight should hand United a decisive advantage before the derby with City at Old Trafford on 8 April.

Manchester United v Reading - Premier League, Old Trafford - 5.30pm, 16 March 2013Nani, Paul Scholes and Phil Jones sit out the Reading tie, but Ferguson can choose from an otherwise healthy squad for the Saturday fixture. The Portuguese winger hobbled out of United’s cup draw with Chelsea, while Jones is still not available after injuring his ankle against the Royals last month.

In defence Nemanja Vidić will likely start after Rio Ferdinand’s call-up to the England squad, while star striker Robin van Persie could return alongside Wayne Rooney in attack. The Dutchman has looked jaded in recent weeks, but played only part of the cup tie with Chelsea.

However, Ferdinand’s surprise call-up after more than two years away from the England set-up has not gone down well at Old Trafford. The veteran defender’s contribution to United has totalled 2x games in all competitions this season, with the 34-year-old’s appearances carefully monitored. Ferdinand’s additional international burden is unlikely to be accepted by the United manager without challenge.

“I need to speak to the United doctor, as we prepare Rio Ferdinand in a certain way and there are certain treatments he has to go through, ” said Ferguson.

“We have to make sure he is going to be OK in terms of the number of games he plays. We have been doing that and it has worked. We have to look at all these things before Rio decides.”

Meanwhile, managerless Reading will be without goalkeeper Adam Federici and winger Jimmy Kébé for the trip north. Third-choice Stuart Taylor will deputise in goal, while striker Pavel Pogrebnyak serves the last of a three match ban. Striker Jason Roberts is set to miss the rest of the season with injury.

Reading has lost five in a row coming into the fixture. Yet, with no new manager appointed and just 10 fixtures left in the season Reading’s owner is unlikely to get the desired ‘bump’ in performances that will save the Berkshire outfit. Not least with Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic finding some form at just the right time. At just the wrong time, with a new bumper television deal set to kick in from next season, Reading already look doomed.

United, meanwhile, has a realistic chance of stretching an already huge league lead this weekend. With a week off, only complacency is likely to stand in the Reds ‘ way. After all, while City manager is trusting in fatigue to hamper United’s season, a week-long break has come at just the right time for Ferguson’s men.

“Football is strange for this,” Manchini said on Friday.

“Sometimes you lose a game, you don’t know why. Maybe one, two, three games. United are playing very well this season, they played fantastic against Real Madrid. But 10 games until the end is a difficult moment because all the teams can be tired after eight months. We hope.”

Should United beat Reading and then Sunderland, hope is surely all that Mancini will have left.

Match details
Manchester United v Reading – Premier League, Old Trafford – 5.30pm, 15 March 2013.

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Rafael, Vidić, Evans, Evra; Cleverley, Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Smalling, Ferdinand, Büttner, Powell, Anderson, Giggs, Young, Welbeck, Hernández

Reading (4-5-1): Taylor; Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey; Leigertwood, McAnuff, Akpan, Guthrie, Robson-Kanu; Hunt. Subs from: Henly, Harte, Morrison, Karacan, McCleary, Blackman, Le Fondre

Match officials
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistant Referees; S Child and D Bryan
Fourth Official: E Ilderton

Form
United: DWWWLD
Reading: LWWWWW

Head to Head
Last 10: United 7, Reading 0, Draw 3
Overall: United 10, Reading 1, Draw 7

Stats

  • United lost a 2-0 against Chelsea in the cup last weekend, but goalscorer Javier Hernández continues to top the minutes per goal rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index having scored eight times in the Premier League this season – a goal every 93 minutes and 30 seconds;
  • Fellow striker Rooney has scored 11 in the league this season, coming from 64 shots at goal with 67.2 per cent on target at an average of 145 minutes per goal;
  • Rooney has also averaged a pass completed in opposition territory every three minutes and contributed nine assists this season;
  • Rio Ferdinand was recalled to the England squad this week – the defender has made 133 defensive contributions this season – tackles, clearances, blocks and interceptions – Ferdinand averages one contribution every 14 minutes and 15 seconds;
  • Ferdinand has also completed 208 passes in the opposition half, an average of one every nine minutes eight seconds;
  • Opponents Reading lost 2-1 to Aston Villa last weekend, with the Royals now level on points at the bottom of the league with QPR;
  • Jobi McAnuff forced Villa’s Nathan Baker into scoring an own goal last weekend – the closest the Reading player has come to a goal this season, having taken 27 shots at goal including 10 on target without scoring;
  • McAnuff has, however, contributed seven assists and delivered 64 crosses, the 8th highest among the Index;
  • Reading’s wide play has been a feature this season – Nicky Shorey has delivered 53 croses, the fourth highest from a defender this season, while Gareth McCleary is second only to Robin van Persie among the Index’s strikers for crosses delivered with 37;
  • Mikele Leigertwood is one of six players to have attempted 100 or more tackles this season last weekend – coming away with the ball after 64.1 per cent of his tackles.

Prediction
3-0

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Comments

  1. sheesh says

    I’d really like to see Hernandez and Welbeck start up front today. Van Persie needs a break and isn’t justifying his starts with his recent performances. Rooney isn’t playing all that brilliantly and needs a kick up the arse. Cleverley’s another one who needs a kick up the arse. I’d still start him but keep Anderson on the bench just in case.

  2. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadffs says

    i think it says it all that theyve been in the prem 8 months now and the only player i could name off the top of my head is that leeds shitehouse harte

    5-0

  3. han says

    Sheesh, this is the kind of game rvp needs to restore his jaded performances and fill his boots
    let him start and sub him 2nd half with the pea who will pull their defence apart

  4. AnantaxAnantax says

    Need to deliver killing blow. Now is NOT the time to rest players. Once we’re 15 up we can consider resting before FA QF

    United 4-0

  5. Minus The Bear says

    If ever there was a game for an absolute pasting on a side at Old Trafford today is the day.

    Reading have lost four on the trot, results so far not going their way today at all but to be fair it’s hardly motivated them at all this season. McDermott being sacked with no obvious replacement and no real plan. We’ve had two disappointing results in a row, this is absolutely the time to get things back on track.

    Although that being the last time we played who had just sacked their manager was QPR and that was an awful performance. Oh and Southampton who had just replaced Adkins and that was equally woeful so it will probably be a scrappy one nil or something.

  6. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    ltel said:
    hahah you complete wanker…… u need to download the player… http://torrentstream.org/ then go to torrent streams and input code when he puts it out.. usually on twitter about 15 mins before game.. perfect streams

    It won’t download the player?

  7. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    ltel said:
    try dl by torrent.. think that’s how I did it

    Yeah got it that way too. So how do I find a link! the test link looked amazing!

  8. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadffs says

    smallings playing cause taggart remembers having to bring him on last time for rafa at reading

  9. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    If Sir Alex is determined to put out a crap side, he could have, at least, given RvP a rest. The underdogs have been winning today, and this side does not inspire me with any confidence that this trend will be reversed at OT.

  10. Minus The Bear says

    He’s got a knee injury. I imagine that this might be the last season though. Until we refuse to sign or play our young midfielders and need him again.

  11. ltel says

    brianofnazareth said:
    OK, thanks mate!

    77f0f13eea47fd72b25b4cc68f82d1faf43b266b id there.. go to media at top.. torrent streams then enter code

  12. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    ltel said:
    77f0f13eea47fd72b25b4cc68f82d1faf43b266b id there.. go to media at top.. torrent streams then enter code

    I’ll give it try, appreciate it mate!

  13. ltel says

    brianofnazareth said:
    It’s just pre-buffering at the moment.Taking a while.

    working??? some isp block it.. im with virgin and its fine

  14. Minus The Bear says

    I think this is an appropriate discussion of the game. Buffering levels are more exciting than this.

  15. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Not surprising really… Reading are shit to begin with, and they’re just not up for straining themselves here… too easy for United, who aren’t really being made to work very hard… unless Ferguson lights ‘em up, I can see this borefest carrying on till fulltime… 2-0.

  16. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    han said:
    in other news, wales ripping england a new one in the rugby

    I’m not normally an Egger but we’re tearing them a new one!

  17. han says

    but he can still weave some magic even though he is knackerred
    fatty burger king muncher man versus food has been rested so many times in his career and is still worthless

  18. Minus The Bear says

    Christ if we aren’t the last game on match of the day, stoke v WBA must have been really really shite

  19. Sidsidney says

    You can tell we’re going for a title

    That was so comfortable it was fucking dull

    15 points, now for 2 weeks of more shite football

  20. han says

    well if that was meant to be a message to city, it must have got lost in translation
    still, a win is a win even if it means playing shit footie at home against relegation and managerless fodder

  21. Sidsidney says

    Minus The Bear said:
    Fuck me, such a pointless substitution. Why not Powell over Carrick?!

    A slow shite game like that suits Carrick
    Powell is a risk having not played for yonks and the cardigan etc.

  22. Sidsidney says

    han said:
    well if that was meant to be a message to city, it must have got lost in translation
    still, a win is a win even if it means playing shit footie at home against relegation and managerless fodder

    It sends out a different message; that we’re pissing our way to the title in first gear

    We’ll play better when we have to. It was manager less commuter shite at home ffs absolute bag of shite.

  23. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    It sends out a different message; that we’re pissing our way to the title in first gear

    We’ll play better when we have to. It was manager less commuter shite at home ffs absolute bag of shite.

    Yeah… there was just no tension in this game at all… Reading couldn’t be arsed to push, so we couldn’t be arsed to push back.

  24. sheesh says

    I’m pretty fucked off that, once again, we’ve put in a performance where we’ve done the bare minimum to win a match.
    We have been boring as fuck for much of the season. At least try and score some goals instead of playing for 20-25 mins and then arsing about for the rest of the game.
    I’m sick of us playing Reading too.

  25. Denton Davey says

    uncleknobheadffs @ 7:34: “young is also a completely pointless hunchback bald hiding twat”

    AND he gets 120,000/week for another three-plus years. No wonder Nani is pissed – he might be inconsistent but at least there’s some end-product. AshleyBloodyYoung has exactly zero goals this season.

    If he his goals hadn’t carried the team for the first half of the season, RVP wouldn’t get any slack for his recent performances – or his two crucial misses against RM in the first leg. He’s been just awful for about eight weeks.

    You have to wonder what Chicharito is thinking when he watches RVP get selected over-and-over again while he has started just six EPL matches yet has scored 16 goals this season.

  26. Bill says

    An appalling performance, we’ve beaten the worst team in the league (QPR have improved under Redknapp) at home by a stuffy 1-0. What formation were we playing? Was Welbeck on the wing or up front as part of 3 with Young as a sole winger? I swear Fergie just picks a team and doesn’t bother about a formation. Just play where you like lads!!

  27. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    You have to wonder what Chicharito is thinking when he watches RVP get selected over-and-over again while he has started just six EPL matches yet has scored 16 goals this season.

    What are you on about, 16 goals???… he’s got 8.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  28. Denton Davey says

    Alfonso – 8 in the EPL; 16 in all competitions.

    OK, the way it was phrased originally suggested that he had 16 goals in 6 EPL starts. Still, pretty good – too good to be benched when the alternative just isn’t firing.

  29. AnantaxAnantax says

    Commenter said:
    uncleknobheadffs @ 7:34: “young is also a completely pointless hunchback bald hiding twat”

    AND he gets 120,000/week for another three-plus years. No wonder Nani is pissed – he might be inconsistent but at least there’s some end-product. AshleyBloodyYoung has exactly zero goals this season.

    If he his goals hadn’t carried the team for the first half of the season, RVP wouldn’t get any slack for his recent performances – or his two crucial misses against RM in the first leg. He’s been just awful for about eight weeks.

    You have to wonder what Chicharito is thinking when he watches RVP get selected over-and-over again while he has started just six EPL matches yet has scored 16 goals this season.

    Chicharito wouldnt even get a chance, let alone a miss, vs Madrid

    I love Chicho and i hope he stays and becomes a legend for us, but one must admit that he goes missing for 90 percent of games and rarely scores winning goals (anymore). I remember one winning goal from him this season

    The 3-4 games he played lots of minutes in, dont remember him producing much

    • ForeverRed says

      He goes missing because the service from our overpaid, under-performing midfield and wingers compares poorly to even that in cattle-class on BA.

  30. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Anantax said:
    Chicharito… goes missing for 90 percent of games and rarely scores winning goals (anymore). I remember one winning goal from him this season

    The 3-4 games he played lots of minutes in, dont remember him producing much

    In his defense, the few times he starts usually means that there have been some further alterations to the side that keep if from being as good as the side that RvP is usually in; his numbers suffer because his service is poor. Chicharito needs to learn to stay onside, but I have a lot of time for him, because he is an excellent poacher and is learning to contribute more with his movement and defending from the front.

  31. marlon says

    18 starts, 12 goals for Hernandez. 10 from the bench, 4 goals. Scored 5 winners this season. Having said that, Chelsea aside (3 goals in 3 games), he very rarely plays against good teams, even off the bench.

  32. Denton Davey says

    RobDiablo: “Chicharito needs to learn to stay onside”

    Or, just maybe, his wingers/midfielders need to learn to anticipate his runs better – i.e., they need to think !

  33. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadffs says

    tbf hes always had a good understanding with giggsy

    probably cause giggsys the only one in cm who can open teams up

  34. Sidsidney says

    And he plays brilliantly first time balls into the right areas

    I wonder how many goals they’ve scored between each other

  35. Denton Davey says

    uncleknobheadffs/sidney – right, Giggs is the only one of the “wingers” with above-average “football intelligence”; the three other guys are dunder-heads.

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