A view from the enemy: Stretty talks Manchester Utd, Berbatov and Spurs
Spurs, United, the Lane, this Sunday. Redemption, revenge...surely it's time for this long running hoodoo to end? I slept with the enemy (figuratively speaking), Stretty from Stretty News, to find out a bit more about that other club in Manchester. The quiet one.
Spooky: There's a suggestion that Utd are in some way going through a transition currently (although quite how a team can sit in second place and challenge for the title and be considered a transition...) would you agree that the side is being fuelled more on belief, experience and seasoned tenacity rather than devastating quality? What has to happen next season to be able to compete and brush aside the likes of City (and their money) and keep ahead of new challengers to the top tier (the likes of Spurs)?
Good question. Wayne Rooney came out during the week and said Ferguson plays a key influence in our title run-in. I think that answers your question about being fuelled on belief. However, complacency has been our biggest enemy but I’m not saying that we don’t have quality. At the start of the season we had everybody fit and played some breathtaking football, therefore, if it wasn’t for all those injuries we’d be running away with our title.
We go about it the same way next season if we aren’t hit with the same injuries. Although, a creative midfielder and maybe a new left back would spice things up a little.
Spooky: How much do you fear 'The Project' over at Eastlands then? Are Utd fans dismissive of the manner of how City have gone about their business, throwing money at anything that lusts after it? Or does it grate because they will now be challenging for the title season in, season out? Will it go stale like it has at Chelsea?
I miss the days when the league was full of football clubs and not ‘projects’. But to answer your question I’ll be honest in saying I’m not that bothered about City getting giddy over their big wallets. Chelsea are a clear example of how the transformation isn’t something permanent, so it’s possible that City will come and go like a one night stand (slightly longer, mind).
Spooky: Fergie is always very pleasant towards Spurs. It can sometimes appear to be a mixture of patronising and perhaps kidology, but I tend to believe he has a soft spot for us (much like our defence has a soft spot for you). There seems to be mutual respect. Once upon a time you had mutual hatred for our 'local' neighbours up the road. Equally so with the likes of Chelsea. Is the focus now completely on City?
If you’re talking about rivalry the answer is no. I cannot describe how much I hate Liverpool which means I still look forward to beating them, despite their decline in the last 20 odd years. Arsenal aren’t much of a threat either but we seriously miss the days when Roy Keane made bits of Patrick Vieira. As for Chelsea, we owe them some credit since their captain gifted us the Champions League back in 2008. *Whoopsy daisy*
Spooky: Who takes over from Fergie? Would you agree that this will be the defining moment for the club in terms of retaining its grip on the Prem? After so many years of sustained dominance are Utd fans prepared to perhaps share silverware as we leave the Sky Sports era of the Top Four behind, nothing more than a distant memory?
Well, it’s going to be the biggest job in football and with the debt circulating over our heads it needs to be somebody with confidence to burn & a successful past. Who comes to mind, then? As much as I hate to say it, I’d put my money on it being Jose Mourinho. The smug git has been waiting for a big English club for some time now.
Spooky: You need to sign players in the summer. Who would you sign (steal) from Tottenham? Not that Levy would allow it to happen.
Not that Levy would allow it to happen? You seem to be forgetting about how Daniel changed his mind over Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov*, leaving them sign for a more successful club. However, Luka Modric is the answer to your question. Simple as.
*Utd attempted to inquire and push for a transfer re: Luka last summer, before Chelsea bid - IMO, Levy wont play ball with Utd again because of the Berbatov saga.
Spooky: Who would you consider to be genuine targets (England or European based players)? Do you actually have a war chest primed for the next transfer window?
Difficult to know who Fergie is actually looking to sign. I'm sure he has a few in mind, he always does, but it depends on how they plan out. I'd personally like to see a creative midfield, left back and centre forward if Owen, Berbatov or Macheda depart.
Spooky: Talking of transfers. Berbatov. From a Spurs perspective, ignoring stats and his swagger when he plays well, he looks like an afterthought at Utd. Stuck on the bench, wasted. Almost a cult figure in some ways rather than a fully fledged first teamer. What went wrong? Has it gone wrong? Or is this a consequence of him playing at a 'bigger' club? Is the sulky one a success or failure?
From reading my tweets you have probably guessed I’m a big admirer of Berbatov. Everything he does looks effortless. He shows respect to the club all the time, despite being dropped last May for the Champions League final.
However, I reckon the FA Cup semi-final against City last year damaged his relationship with Ferguson, missing those two unbelievable opportunities in front of goal. And it’s a pity because he was our top goalscorer last season but I’d honestly prefer to see him at another club enjoying his football instead of sitting on the bench with us. He deserves more respect.
The classy bastard will never live up to the £30m price-tag but we still shared wonderful times together, especially the hat-trick against Liverpool. By no means was he a failure, so in my notebook, he’s down as a success.
Spooky: Spurs. You lot must really like us. We play great football and we always bend over for you at Old Trafford. At the Lane, we tend to compete and on occasions almost beat you (I was behind the goal when Tevez equalised a few seasons back, gut wrenching stuff...for us). Are you perhaps less confident for this game than previous ones? What do you make of us this season?
Agreed. Spurs have played the best football in the league this season but we usually get the better of you home and away. While you’re brilliant at going forward Spurs leave far too many gaps in defence, so mind if we take advantage of that?
Spooky: No. Please no. Moving on. How do you think you'll line-up and approach the game?
The team sheet, I expect, will be predictable if Rooney manages to gain fitness in time. Scholes and Carrick have formed an outstanding combination in recent weeks and without Parker in your team, we could run wild in midfield. The only worry I have is what damage could be done to Evra. In previous games Lennon of all wingers turned him inside out and that could cost us goals if you can get past Super Dave.
Spooky: Prediction? Like I don't know you're going to say 'away win'.
Away win. 1-0
Spooky: Thanks Stretty. Let war commence.
I returned the favour answering some questions on Stretty's website. Click here for 'A view from the enemy: Spurs fan on Redknapp, Modric and challenging for the title'.