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A Red Devils point of view

What made you support United mate?
I could make up a cute little story about some kind of childhood trauma or something... but the answer is simple: Eric Cantona. The way he was stamping his authority on the pitch all the time... unbelievable. He was the outstanding player of the Nineties in English football and it was impossible not to notice him.

Are you happy with how your season is going so far?
Yeah, reasonably. I never expected Arsenal to do so well so it's a surprise they are breathing down our neck, and to be honest I'm still waiting for them to implode. We were impressive in the Champions League and of course we completed the annual beating of Villa in the FA Cup. Carling Cup embarrassment aside, we can be pleased. The highlight was the 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle but there's more to come.

Fergie spent big money last summer, how do you rate the signings he made?
Well, Nani's been erratic and inconsistent yet he's capable of moments of brilliance but that's what I expected of him. Hargreaves was solid in midfield but was terribly unlucky with his injuries. Tevez is the consistent goalscorer we hoped he would be but there's something interesting: he's scored eleven goals at Old Trafford and only one away from home - but as that's come at Anfield I can't complain! Anderson's been a revelation so far. I mean, how on earth did this guy learn to play in central midfield at such a high standard? He's got steel as well as skill, only the goals are missing but we have more than enough players to supply them.

He is running out of time but will he need more in January - if so will he be given the funds to get them?
We have already agreed a deal with Angola striker Manucho but it's not certain if he will get a work permit. I think if we were in desperate need then funds would be available but the squad is strong, Fergie himself stated many times he does not think we need strengthening. Most United fans, myself included, believe it's a risk not to sign a proven striker because relying on Saha's glass legs to provide cover is not the wisest thing...

United are a classy side, full of quality so they are all dangers but who is the main United danger man that Pompey should watch?
Beware, you'll probably be astonished: Rooney and Ronaldo are the main danger men. Surprised, eh? :) They scored 46 goals between them last season and have 33 in the current one so they are set to surpass their own record... Whilst we have quality-attacking players, we suffer without them because the attacking play is built around these two. However, when they're both in form, United are unplayable.

Where do you reckon United will finish this season?
I'll be bold: if - and it's a big if - we avoid serious injuries, we'll retain the league title. It will be close but I think our squad is the best or at least better than Arsenal's and in the case of Chelsea, forgive me if it looks like arrogance but my belief is that Avram Grant is not the man to outwit Fergie in a close title race.

What about Pompey?
We were linked with Muntari once and I can see why, he's a class act in midfield. The Distin-Campbell pairing in central defence is impressive but your strikers are frustrating. I think everyone expected more from Nugent and while Kanu and Benjani are both good players, they are inconsistent. They score three in one game then disappear for three games. Fratton Park is a great place with a fantastic atmosphere but it's not necessarily an advantage: teams are perhaps a bit intimidated by the atmosphere and set out to defend so you'd need deadlier attackers to break them down.

If you could take any Pompey player from our squad and put him in yours, who would it be and why?
We are short on cover in central defence so I would be ready to forgive Distin that he played for Citeh! And I'd gladly swap Kuszczak for James... but I think none of the two players I mentioned would be happy to sit on the bench at Old Trafford.

When we played at Fratton earlier in the season you dominated the first half, we dominated the second - did you fear getting beaten by Pompey at Fratton once again?
That was a great game. No offence but I think we should have put the result beyond doubt by half time. We created chances in the second half, too but were uncharacteristically shaky at the back. The best player of both team was sent off which was a farce in my opinion. And yes, it crossed my mind that we will lose again but that would have been hugely unjust... Last season's game at Fratton Park was a cracker, I've never seen James doing so well before...

Go on - who is going to win, United or Pompey?
We've won all our home league games against Pompey since your promotion. This season we scored 25 and conceded only three at Old Trafford - and some of your best players are at the African Nations Cup. Despite your great away record, I predict a 3-1 home win.

Questions answered by Zae from Vital United.

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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday January 29 2008

Time: 9:00AM

Your Comments

good answer zae - it probably wont surprise you but i dont agree with them all, most but not all :-)

i would think that maybe this section is what i disagree with the most, yet agree with a section 'I think everyone expected more from Nugent and while Kanu and Benjani are both good players, they are inconsistent' - agree that we probably expected more from nuge, but in fairness he has not played that much, but do disgree with the benji thoughts - he is probably as consistent as any player anywhere as he always runs his arse off no matter what - and usually with great success. ok he has had the odd 'bad game' this season, but who hasnt?

pompeyrug
I think we could be in for a kicking on Wednesday - good call at 3-1 and probably worth a punt
WalshWasGod
im still 'quietly confident' about this game...
pompeyrug
ok, our chances for this game, probably rest on richard hughes having a good game! well, and the rest of our team actually... But if we want to win, which clearly we will, we will have to stop you (man u) playing, and to do that, we need players like hughes, diop, muntari, (doh, 2 of them are away..). I think we will attempt to freeze them out of the midfield, as, if there is one thing we do well, its win balls in midfield!
pompeycarpet
our defence has kept the second/thirdish most clean sheets in the leauge, but is liable to slip up, as herman is eratic at the best of times, and sol/distin getting on, so they are allowed to be a little incosistent, and hence this is where we could slip up. Our last 2 games, we have failed to get into the game for the first half an hour,a s the defence was just completly disorganised, and we could never clear our lines. lets hope that the return of sol will see them rejuvinate!
pompeycarpet
and finally, man u. Main threat has to be ronaldo, so expect him to be followed everywhere by hughes (who i am sure will play!). Rooney in the FA cup destroyed us last year, but i dont think we will se a repeat performance, and i expect distin to nicely hold him in his pocket. HOWEVER, as you say, the goals come from all over your team, not just them, and Sir Alex knows that we can close you down in the key areas, so he will plan around it. which is why i reckon that: 1) Man u will win. 2) Neither rooney or ronaldo will socre. 3) rooney or ronaldo, possibly both, will start on the bench(!). 4) we will concede an early goal, and not be able to get back into it.
pompeycarpet
Wow Carps what an comprehensive reply.. and a good one. Zae started reading your article and thought'he we go another Manchester united fan aren't we great blah blah blah.. but by the time I got to the end it was clear that you know your stuff and have a fair understanding of Pompey too mate.. well done on of the best I've read of these... I think we could get a stuffing tomorrow if we start the way we have recently but if we get a chance to snatch point and actually take it, that'll be one we weren't expecting.... so will be a big bonus....Odds on Milan to score ?
Chix
yep chix...i started writing it in one post, got a little carried away, as i realised that us getting anything out of the game was much more complex than first impressions, then it just went on and on and...well... anyway, we could snatch a point if the defence is solid, and if the attack works, we will get the win. all things considered, dont expect much of a game, as we will shut them out, there midfielders will be non-existent, and ronaldo wont get a sniff...bet he socres a hatrick now...but we will still loose!
pompeycarpet
i'll put a few quid on baros to score you know Chix - i will also have a little wager on us to win, at leat draw...
pompeyrug
 

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