Big ups to Bromantic for doing this and to Rory (Sweet Science) and Sam (nolefansam) from the Busby Babe for answering. Here we go. Sam's answers are in italics. Check out the answers given by Bromantic to The Busby Babe as well.
AA: Thoughts on Howard Webb being appointed? Obviously good for you guys, but why does the FA insist on making such contentious appointments?
Rory: YES!! Three points in the bag! Honestly,Howard Webb is the best ref in England. Who else would you prefer? Clattenburg?
Sam: Obviously I'm thrilled and expect a couple sending offs and at least one penalty to go against Liverpool..... On the other hand, he did just award Liverpool their first pen of the year so there is that.
Seriously, I think there's a reason Howard Webb referees the final of both the World Cup and Euro matches. He typically calls a good game on the biggest stage. I hope truly hope his name isn't even mentioned after the game because that means it was decided by the players and his impact was minimal.
AA: What are United fans thoughts on De Gea overall? Would you like to see him leave?
Rory: Hell no. All this talk of de Gea out in the papers is disgusting. Do these people actually not watch games? At what point has Fergie even inclined to not back him?
His shot stopping is world class. His distribution is great. I can't remember him letting us down in the big games. And he is only a baby, which means he is only gunna get better. He is top five keeper in the world material.
Sam: I love him to be honest. His shot stopping ability is incredible (right Juan?) and there has been some noticeable improvement in his command of the box since the beginning of last year. Numerous pundits pointed to his slight frame as reason for this but I think it more had to do with playing behind seasoned defenders like Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. He seemed to be hesitant to direct his defenders because of their class and experience. His improvement in this area appeared to pick up with the injury to Vidic. Coincidence? Maybe but I truly think there is something to this.
All of that said, there is a rumour making the rounds that Real Madrid would be willing to part with Cristiano Ronaldo for £60M plus De Gea and Nani. If that were true than I wouldn't be upset to see him head back to Spain but that is the only scenario I would be alright with.
AA: Fat Frank has been linked to Man U this summer. Thoughts?
Rory: Can't see it happening. Who was the last 30 + player we signed (apart from Scholes last season)? Henrik Larson on loan? He is not the answer to our midfield problems
Sam: I don't see it. While I appreciate him, I can't see him making a move to Old Trafford. I don't see what he adds to the squad except more age to an already decrepit midfield. Rumor is he would come in as a replacement for Paul Scholes but I think Sir Alex Ferguson is happy leave that to either Tom Cleverley or Anderson (pending fitness) at this point. He publicly stated a desire to raise the speed and athleticism of the side and bringing in a 34 year old in the engine room wouldn't be a step in that direction.
AA: Will United try and improve the back line in the transfer market?
Rory: Not in January. If Fergie does want to act, it will be in the summer. If that happens, look for Vidic to be on his way out due to someone stumping up stupid money for a player who has suffered knee injuries. Hopefully the return of Vidic will help us down the stretch. But if he cannot regain form and fitness, someone may come in to replace him.
Sam: Simply put, no. The injuries to Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Vidic all seem to be behind the squad so there are 5 quality center halves to choose from and flexibility at right back with Jones, Smalling, and the imprssive Rafael out there. I think there will be a noticeable tightening up at the back in the second half of the campaign, as evidenced by the consecutive clean sheets in the league during the festive period.
AA: How do United fans feel about Rooney? These days, he’s hurt. When he’s not hurt, he’s out of game shape. Then he gets in game shape for a matter of weeks, and the cycle starts again. Would they have let him go last season if they knew RVP was coming?
Rory: To be fair he was unlucky early on when he got that ugly gash in his leg. He has the odd games where he is on fire. Maybe his two best performances have come in out two biggest games this season (City away and Chelsea away).I love Rooney. He will be fine. We now need to settle him into one position and get him and RVP playing together. Problem with that is that he is so adaptable and we our constantly needing a hole to be plugged. He has played on both wings, up top and in CM this season. No way we would have sold him.
Sam: I appreciate Wayne Rooney and would be gutted to see him leave. There can be no argument that he has the quality to be a world class playmaker. His injuries have been unfortunate this year but unlike past season's there is enough quality to overcome an absence of such significance. The arrival of Shinji Kagawa was supposed to alleviate some of the burden that Rooney was forced to carry, and while this hasn't really happened due to injuries of his own, Robin van Persie has stepped up to carry the workload in the attacking third. I truly believe the reason United hasn't seen any major arrivals in the midfield is because of the transition of Rooney to the center of the pitch. He played there a handful of times last year during injury crises and this actually may suit his game a little more. His first touch is consistently inconsistent but he can pick out a long diagonal with the best of them. By moving further away from goal, he will have less pressure on his first touch and more time to pick out those balls to the corner for the Ashley Young's and Antonio Valencias to run onto.
AA: Can't we bury the hatchet and instead focus our collective hatred on Chelsea, Man C and PSG instead of each other?
Rory: PSG? Really? As for the other two, I really do hate them. At least you have history
Sam: Not yet. We ran a story about United's rivals recently (here) and Liverpool was still voted the biggest rival, albeit barely. Personally, I think its City at this point but not due to the funds, but rather based on table position. When/if Liverpool get back to contending for the title they will easily outdistance the competition in this category. Obviously I dislike City but soften a bit more when thinking about Chelsea and PSG. Granted they spend ridiculous amounts of money on transfers but this hasn't really impacted United too much at this point. Chelsea beat Man United to Eden Hazard and PSG got Lucas Moura. I can live with that because it happens every year. Chelsea is in a similar situation to Liverpool with on-going manager changes and an attempt to completely flip the roster so they are slightly off the pace while PSG is in an inferior league and hasn't played the Red Devils in a long time.
AA: Lots of rumors United are in for Zaha. How will he fit into the squad and do you see him getting playing time anytime soon based on the depth at striker?
Rory: I love this kid. He has a build like Ronaldo's and can play on the wing or out wide. Pace to burn. Skillfull. Can beat a man. And he has confidence. I would love if we get him. Reports suggest he will go back to Palace if we get him this month. I would have no problem with that. If not, maybe he can help us out wide in the rare appearnces he may make.
Sam: Wilfried Zaha looks to be a done deal at this point but he's not playing as a striker at Old Trafford (does he actually play there for Crystal Palace?). He's going to be a winger here but stay with Crystal Palace as they try to earn promotion to the Premier League through the rest of this campaign. I would be pleased with this signing and arrangement. I don't see him as the replacement for Nani as many have speculated. If Nani leaves, expect a bigger name to be brought in that can contribute more immediately. Zaha would be more of a signing for the future and I wouldn't be shocked to see him spend some time on loan at a mid to lower table Premier League squad next year.
AA: What are your thoughts on Ashley Young? I feel like he doesn’t add much and I feel caused some of Evras defensive woes since he arrived.
Rory: I like him. He's not world class. Again, another player where his two best performances were against City and Chelsea. He is an intelligent player. His movement off the ball is tip top. Sometimes he drifts in and out of games and that may prevent him from getting to the next level. I strongly disagree about him not tracking back. He works very hard down the left (Likewise with Valencia on the other wing). Evra's shit form over the last 18 months has been down to him. And even he has improved in the last three or so months. And I'm not talking about his goal scoring.
Sam: Inconsistent. His pace is excellent and his form has come around as of late. He played brilliantly in big matches against City and Chelsea earlier in the year. Many supporters have been disappointed with his desire to ALWAYS cut onto his right foot when playing on the left. When he was brought in last year (for less than Stuart Downing) he had no problem staying wide on the left and crossing in with his weaker foot. I'm not sure why this has stopped but it has forced him to become extremely predictable.
I hadn't made the correlation with Evra so I will have to watch for it. Young missed some significant time with his own injury issues and Patrice was still poor defensively. As of late Ashley Young has gotten more games and Evra is playing better defensively so I don't know.
AA: How concerned are you that United’s form this year is far from convincing? I have no idea how they are top of the league. Does your over reliance on RVP worry you should he go down?
Rory: I'm not worried about our performances. If anything, it excites me. Think what happens when we really click? A lot of that is because we get behind by conceding stupid goals from set pieces. Again, this is nothing that cannot be worked on the training ground.
If we win the title and RVP is still recognised as the sole reason for this I would not care. However the thought of him being injured is a scary one. Having said that, if we can get Rooney fit, I would be confident that he could man up and take the responsibility of scoring goals.
Sam: NOT AT ALL. I think Manchester United playing good but not great football is encouraging because it means their is room to improve. Currently this squad is on pace to finish with 90+ points and has a 7 point lead over second place Manchester City. That is outstanding considering the performances.
The place I'm concerned is in Europe and the draw doesn't help this either. I would be rather surprised to see United get through real Madrid in that competition.
Bromantic can attest to my love affair with Robin van Persie since his Arsenal days so I don't even want to think about him going down. That said, I think United would be able to manage based on the form of Javier Hernandez and the playmaking ability of Kagawa and Rooney. An extended period of time missed by RvP would be deeply concerning. The over reliance on a single player (Rooney) cost United the league a couple times in the past.
AA: Do you accept that Sir Alex Ferguson is one part satan, one part genius, and about seven parts ass hole?
Rory: Luis Suarez?
Sam: No. Satan I agree with but he's at least equal parts asshole and genius.
How do you see this game playing out? Care to make a score prediction?
Rory: RVP 3 - 1 Suarez
Sam: Regardless of form this is always a hard fought contest. I see Liverpool having the majority of possession but United pressing hard higher up the pitch than normal. United has played well on the break so this fits their big game style as well as allows Liverpool to play into their hands a bit. I could see a 2-1 game going into the final 10 mins and Hernandez getting one more on the break to make it 3-1.
Either way, here's to a good game free of the recent controversies seen in this fixture.
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