Mancs mop up and Marseille mutterings

The fall out from Saturday continued at work yesterday.

People of all sorts came up to me and assumed that I must be “absolutely delighted” at as if it guaranteed a £1 million or something! Inwardly one is naturally pleased, the result is different from other league games. However, outwardly one tries to exude a calmness bordering on indifference as these things do have a habit of coming back to bite you when you least expect it? Anyway, it’s not as if you get fifteen points for beating the Mancs although no doubt Fergie and their fans would argue that their “status” justifies it!

Elsewhere plaudits flew in from all angles. Ryan Babel, as scorer of the decisive goal attracted special attention.

Said Babel

“It was a fantastic moment for me and for the team. Before I came onto the pitch the manager was telling me to give the game some energy. He said that I have done the same every time I have come off the bench and said to try and do the same this time.”

Although one has to praise Rafa on the timing of his substitution one hopes that Babel will be used more regularly as opposed to being bought off the bench for “impact” purposes? Rafa himself significantly chose to single out Javier Mascherano for his performance which was superb, again!

“The workrate of Javier Mascherano in the midfield is amazing. He can give the other midfield players more freedom. If you go with more offensive players you know he will be in a good defensive position, and that is very important for the team. The only player who covered more ground than Mascherano was Momo Sissoko. The difference is Javier has more experience. Momo was amazing and Mascherano is as good as Momo in terms of the workrate but also has better positions.”

And better skill!

Sadly it seemed that “Mas” may be a doubt for tonight’s Champions League opener at the Stade Velodrome due to a groin problem he sustained late in Saturday’s game. Elsewhere in the team Torres and Gerrard will be better for the extra days training but will they be fit enough? Gerrard played on Saturday for twenty minutes or so and had targeted Marseille as the game for his return. His cameo on Saturday suggests he will start but Torres looks a less encouraging prospect. I suspect Rafa will opt for Keane and Kuyt up front and only use Torres if we need to chase the game?

Marseille by all accounts are an improvement on the side we trounced in France 4-0 last season and shot ourselves in the foot against at Anfield. They lie second in the French league and are unbeaten. However, it is hard to disagree with Rafa when after Saturday he said that although we should go into this game full of confidence, there is also a need for focus

“We went to Marseille with a lot of confidence last season. Now the risk is greater, because to play Marseille straight after United will be really tough and Marseille are a better team than last season. They are playing really well, they have good balance in their team and they have players with quality and pace up front.”

Prediction? Come on Robbie Keane time to break your duck. I think tonight will be the night and I will be betting on it! I’ve no doubt that Rafa will be happy with a draw, but let’s hope the confidence gained from Saturday enables us to go one better? I’ll say 2-1 or 2-0!

Finally, remembering Richard Wright 1943 – 2008

“I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
Dont mind. why should I be frightened of dying?
Theres no reason for it, youve gotta go sometime.”

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