Terry Christian on Champions League Final

Terry Christian on Champions League Final

Concluding our extensive pre-match coverage of the Champions League Final, we had a chat with Terry Christian – TV and Radio presenter and Manchester United supporter.

United going in as underdogs… probably different to 2009, when their defensive problems hyped up United’s chances. Do you think Barcelona being favourites this time will actually help us out?

Yes I couldn’t understand how we were supposedly favourites last time and there was all this nonsense about ‘the best United squad ever etc in 2009 , when one look at the team sheet told you that the midfield was weak.

What would be your starting XI and would you go 451 or 442?

4-4-2 isn’t fluid enough against Barcelona , starting 11 will be VDS , Rafael , Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra , Carrick, Giggs, Park , Valencia , Rooney , Hernandez. This line up can change shape and has so much running and intelligence about it. Barcelona will have to concentrate and I’ve a feeling if their back 4 give away a yellow card in nthe first 20 mins they’ll start wobbling.

Much is said about Barcelona’s midfield – it’s almost a perfect blend – but United seemed to have stumbled upon a quite attractive combination themselves. Carrick and Giggs played in the middle in the final 2 years ago and the game passed them by, but their confidence must be sky high at the minute and surely that will count for something at Wembley?

Carrick has occasionally looked a bit milky in big games, but as a deep lying midfielder with Giggs buzzing around him he’s been fantastic recently and seems to have moved up a level, although his ability and talent has never been in doubt. I think its important we keep 4 players in Barca’s half and keep them pressed back and stretched. I’m confident we’ll give them plenty to think about in the game. Park is the key for me, because he’s going to give Daniel Alves some big decisions to make in the game.

So, the pre-match talk has focussed on the key men for either side being Messi and Rooney. Perhaps unfair on Rooney that some people are using that as a direct comparison but he’s just as capable of performing a bit of magic like Messi can…

I got a fair bit of stick from United fans for putting Rooney in my all time United 11 ahead of Cantona . I’ve been going to United since 1969 and there is no doubt in my mind that Rooney is world class and there’s so much to his game, I thought that when he was a 16 year old at Everton and I think it now. I don’t think Rooney has anything to prove and his intelligence, ability and  awareness are every bit a match for Cantona’s . Messi does remind me of George Best and is a different type of player to Rooney but I love Wayne Rooney and was so relieved when it was announced he was staying at United. I think a lot of his game was sacrificed to help Ronaldo shine, but now as then we’re only half  a team without Rooney.

This is pretty much a bonus game when you think any Utd fan would have taken the 19th league as a priority at the start of the season.. But it’ll still hurt to lose, won’t it?

It’ll hurt to lose, but there’s a steely determination, belief and composure about us this year and they have exceeded all expectations, before a ball was even kicked this season I thought Chelsea would win the league by 10 clear points and that was with an on-form Rooney and without all the injuries to Rio, Valencia, Fletcher and missing Park for a huge chunk of the season.

Who would you start at right back? That seems to be a pretty hot potato of a position..

Fabio , Rafael or O’Shea , O‘Shea for his experience and reading of the game , but as a threat going forweard and that fearlessness either of the Brazilian twins.

Of course these occasions always have a romantic significance.. In 68 it was 10 years since Munich, in 99 it was Sir Matt’s birthday and in 2008 Giggs broke the appearance record… Of course Edwin is retiring just as Big Pete did in 1999. Do you think these things have any bearing on the actual performance?

I’m so superstitious about football , although it makes no sense at all. I believe the European Cup is ours , I didn’t think we’d beat Liverpool in the FA cup final in 1996 and never expected us to win the league that year – I have a similar(ish) feeling…

What do you think we need to do in order to win? What are the key areas?

Park playing on that left hand side and drifting in will give Alves some big decisions to make. Does he go with him, or hold and watch for Evra and or Giggs going outside on the left. Four players upfront and I think the intelligence of Rooney, Valencia , Hernandez and Park is going to put a lot of mental pressure on their back 4, an early yellow card for Abidal, Puyol or Alves will have them wobbling.

Would a win here finally shut up the people who say this is an average United side?

Well we’re not an average side , but we look at the team and think where are the Roy Keanes and The Bryan Robsons and The Paul Inces and a younger more sprightly Paul Scholes , Where’s Ronaldo etc , but in many ways players like Keane , Robson and Ronaldo only happen once every decade or so, but then so do players like Rooney , Rio and Vidic and then we’ve got Evra and Park is so under rated its untrue. We’ve got the option of Paul Scholes who’s similar to Xavi , and though Scholesy has slowed up a bit his brain, passing and vision are better than ever – we won’t talk about his passing, and likewise Giggs. We just play a slightly different game , but then if you look back over the season the number of injuries etc has been horrendous, now we’re virtually all fully fit and raring to go.

United haven’t even kicked a ball in the final yet but they’re looking to wrap up the De Gea deal quickly and look like getting their top winger target, Ashley Young. Are these the right men we need and who else would you like to see us get in?

Paper talk is paper talk , I don’t know much about De Gea , but if Fergie wants him I’m not going to argue with that any more than I’d argue with a master electrician rewiring my house , he’s the expert. Ashley Young would give us a new dimension and he’s proved his worth at Villa , lightning pace , decent skill , scores goals and can take free kicks and corners and would fit in very comfortably – I mean who expected Dwight Yorke to be as incredible as he was in 1999 when we bought him!

Thanks to Terry for his time, and COME ON UNITED!!


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