7Cantonas editors Yolkie and Preben Walle discussed the games with Liverpool and Manchester City as well as Wayne Rooney’s international break with friends of the site Simon Monaghan of the band Daystar and Paul Greenhoff in this week’s “Press Red”, a round table panel feature.
Weeks don’t come much bigger than this. Liverpool away followed by Manchester City at home in the league. Two fixtures that traditionally have supporters added interest as soon as they’re announced, and two fixtures that have took on extra significance in the last few years with regards to their influence on challenging for trophies. Having to play them on consecutive weekends only adds to that special atmosphere. Si, will the derby game in particular should be quite an interesting time in your band… will there be banter or will you just not talk?
Si : There is always banter to be honest between me & Ste (Our token City fan). One thing we have agreed is if United win then he has to come with me to Old Trafford as a United fan. If City win we will be advertising for a new bass player (He doesn’t know that yet)!!
Paul, how is your own view of the rivalry between us and Liverpool and us and City? Is it influenced by what your dad felt (indeed, can you tell us what his thoughts were on which was the bigger game)?
Paul : For me the games against Liverpool are massive,the biggest for sure, the rivalry aspect is huge… I honestly believe that we are the only two clubs players earn less money to play for, for the history, football philosophy, the following, two huge clubs! That’s why one is always striving to be ahead of the other, on and off the pitch. I have to say though now with us having the greatest manager that has ever lived… we will take some catching!! The City games I feel will also become massive, for many years City have been pretty poor… to beat United but to get relegated was fine for them, if we lost to them… yes a few difficult days at work or nights down the local pub but they were never going to win anything so it sort of didn’t matter… but now as we saw last year, them beating us can mean they win things, this for sure ups the rivalry and starts again next weekend.
Preben : I’m shaking. After the two games against Basle and Norwich I’m afraid that these two games might define our season in a bad way. Considering the form Manchester City and Chelsea are in, I think anything else than four points from these two games would be… if not disastrous, so at least problematic.
In terms of which rivarly is the most important I think my mind has turned over the last few years. Just a couple of seasons back I would definitely have said it was Liverpool, but today, City’s ridiculous spending has made them a real contender for titles, especially after winning the FA Cup last season.
The corresponding fixtures last season had quite contrasting results and memories attached to them. Wayne Rooney’s breathtaking overhead kick won the derby while it was a pretty embarrassing day at Anfield. How do you see the games going this time around?
Preben : I think we’ll get the four points we need. Where they come, and how they come, is completely irrelevant to me.
Si : I think we will win both games. Liverpool simply because we are better in every department. I know we haven’t won there since 2007 but I’m confident of this one. At home against Man City will be a big occasion for the blues and as long as our defence gets back to what it was before Chelsea I can’t see them beating us on our own ground. I don’t want to be eating humble pie after this game thats for sure.
Paul : I think the game at Anfield will be like it normally is – very tough, tackles flying in and high tempo… their fans lifting the team,they want to beat us to stop us winning things and we want to beat them so they don’t start winning & we get 20! For these games I feel we need more of a warrior in the middle of midfield as a big tackle can be like scoring a goal… I’d play Jones in there. If we play like we can we will win… if I’m honest I’d take a point now if you offered it me & a clean sheet.
The City game is at home so I feel it will be different, we dictate the tempo more at home, I also think the injured players coming back will be more ready for this one… we will be stronger! If they play two up top will suit us better… more space in midfield, like against Liverpool we will have to defend well and… I wouldn’t take a draw, this one is 3 points for me!!
Last season at Anfield Phil Dowd had a shocker – sheer fortune saved Nani from what could have been a serious injury – paraphrasing Fergie now, how important is it to get a strong referee in these kind of games?
Paul : A strong referee is very important, as they must not be influenced by the crowd or the occasion, that tackle on Nani last year… Carragher should’ve gone to jail! But still it’s the players… no excuses, we will get bad decisions like people will at Old Trafford, play like we can and we will win.
Preben : It’s vitally important. Tackles will fly in, and you need a referee who has the ability to stamp down on the ridiculous tackles (from both sides) but still has the ability to let the game flow. For me, a referee like Graham Poll or Pierluigi Collina would have been perfect, but alas, there is no one like them in the Premiership these days.
Si : It is very important as lesser referees will crumble under the pressure of all those scousers!! Unfortunately it’s Andre Mariner who sent Vidic off in our 2-0 defeat in 2009 so we shall just have to wait and see how that turns out. I reckon Fergie will be gutted in the choice of ref though.
Time was, that Sir Alex would be itching to set the record straight after two consecutive defeats at Anfield. Publicly he says he doesn’t care as long as we win the league in May, privately do you think it will be a different script he will be reading the players?
Si : What Fergie tells the public and what happens in the dressing room are two completely different things and I think Fergie will definitely be using this to fire up to team. He’d be daft not too and one thing he isn’t is daft!!
Preben : I honestly don’t think so. These games are for the fans, first and foremost. The players have to treat it just like any other game with maybe a little more intensity, and Sir Alex knows that better than anyone else.
Paul : Make no mistake Fergie will want to win at Anfield, I think he is genuinely disappointed how we’ve played there over the past few years… but like he says we’ve still won the league!! I love Fergie and his mind games haha!!
Don’t we all! Last season Wayne Rooney’s form and season dramatically took a turn for the worse after a difficult international break. It’s fair to say last year he’d been struggling since before the World Cup with that injury but this season he’s been in fantastic form, before the news of the alleged betting “scandal” with his dad and then the red card… We all know what kind of reaction we’d like to see this time around, but what do you think we will see? Additionally, should the manner of how the red card came about be cause for concern?
Paul : Rooney… one bad thing and everyone forgets all the good things he does or has done.. he played a great pass for second goal… I think the sending off the other night, yeah, Rooney will be disappointed with it… frustration, possibly a little red mist, he is still learning and I’m sure he’ll deal with the situation better next time. It is never easy at work when things are maybe not right in your personal life as we all know but least of all when the public know about it as well. I’m sure he learnt a hell of a lot last year, I have no worries about him and I wouldn’t swap the white Pele for anyone!!
Si : Personally, I don’t think that he should have played the game for England last Friday. Rooney has done brilliantly to mature the way he has and calm down that temper but it doesn’t disappear. He just controls it better. Obviously what has happened with his Dad & Uncle is gonna be on his mind and I think the game came too soon after for him. I think once Fergie gets to have a chat with him he will sort his head out.
Preben : One always worries about Wayne after a week like this. He wasn’t firing on all cylinders going into the break, and the sending off in Podgorica was ridiculous. But, in terms of the red card, there’s no reason to worry. This is just the type of person Wayne is. He sometimes makes rash decisions, and that was certainly one of them! Performance wise, on the other hand, there is a cause for concern. I’m afraid he will get a dip in form, and we can just hope that it will be as short as possible.
September could be seen as a month where, to use a terrible analogy, the stabilisers came off and we wobbled a little bit as the month wore on. The draw against Basel was a far cry from the demolition of Bolton while we entered the international break with what many feel was a fairly unconvincing victory over an admittedly impressive Norwich team. Is there a case to say the eye catching score-lines over Arsenal and Bolton were merely kicking two teams when they were down? Or did the injuries – particularly further up the pitch – have more of an impact than has been made of?
Si : I think after the blistering start to the season we had the minute the standards dropped a little everyone is all over it. The fact is we had a blip against Basel. We still beat Norwich when we played badly. We also beat Chelsea even though arguably they were the better side. All in all things are still good. Regarding the injuries of course they upset the rhythm of the side but like I said it’s not like we are getting beat. This is a testament to how high the expectations are for United this season that a few shaky performances and people are worried.
Preben : Looking back at September, it was a very good month in the end. We didn’t lose a game, and the performance – particularly against Bolton was very convincing. Granted, they weren’t on top form, but we still had to get the job done. The Basel and Norwich games on the other hands proved that we get results even when we’re shit. That’s vital. Absolutely vital.
Paul : The start of the season has been great… United have been like a breath of fresh air to watch, so many youngsters, high tempo, playing the Barca way is the only way to describe it. As more players became injured we became more open at the back and not as free flowing but still we are in the best position possible… top!!! Yes I feel we played Spurs, Arsenal and even Bolton at the right time but you still have to beat these teams, and we did, with style!! It’ll be interesting when we get most the players back to see what our strongest team will be… it’s great that the youngsters are putting so much pressure on the experienced players to perform and even speed their game up!!!! Get Jones in the centre of midfield I say, let him express himself in there and pick up the strikers that drop off deeper… he’s one on the team sheet in centre midfield the opposition wouldn’t like to see!!!
Thanks to the guys for their time. You can follow Daystar on Twitter.