The Big Game
As I sat in my office lost between tons of reports about our next rival, I get a phone call from an Egyptian number:
Unknown Caller: "Mr. Ahmed Mohamed?"
AM: "Yes, who is it?"
UC: "I'am Hossam Al-Ebrachi, physio of Egyptian National Team."
AM: "Salah is injured, isn't he?"
HA: "Sadly, he fractured his hip during our game, may be out for 2 months..."
AM: "Thank you", and aggressively end the call.
http://nilesports.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/mohamed-salah-300x179.jpgDistraught about this news, I try to think who will replace Salah, until another phone interrupts, this time from a familiar number, Konopinski:
K: "Yes boss, I'd want to inform you that Daniel Sturridge has twisted his knee..."
AM: "Damn it Konopinski, we were supposed to have mild session today!!!", and again I hang up the phone aggressively.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02579/daniel-sturridge_2579270b.jpgThese injuries brings my team to bare-bones as already Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger are in need of rest. They are overworked and are utterly exhausted. Aspas has broken himself earlier this month and is set to return after United's game. With only Suarez upfront, it seems my good luck has come to an ABRUPT end.
Moyes was very calm in his press conference, even praising me in the process, unlike myself. I honestly thought he was going to be like his predecessor, or Jose of Chelsea, but he seem nicer than how he looks.
Stripped out of Gerrard, Agger, Salah, Aspas and Sturridge, I had to choose my starting lineup carefully, as they will most probably play the whole game. I opted for a 4-3-3 to counter their expected 4-2-3-1 and my lineup was:
CBs: Kelly and Sakho
FBs: Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson
DM: Lucas Leiva
CMs: Michael Bradley(c) and Henderson
IFs: Victor Moses and Javier Pastore
ST: Luis Suarez
The ref blow the whistle and the game kicks off, and I could hear my heartbeat in a 75,000 crowd at Old Trafford! As I've predicted, they had much of the ball, but we looked much more dangerous when we attacked. However it was a boring game until the 34th minute, when suddenly Suarez presses Vidic gets the ball off him and blasts it in to the top corner! THe crowd got wild, you could hear the booing and Kop chants at the same time. It was nice to go in the second half leading.
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291489-188D4FD8000005DC-14_634x416.jpgDuring half time, we could hear the usual You'll Never Walk Alone chant even though we were the visitors. This fired up the lads and seemed determined to get a result.
Second half was even more boring. Time didn't seem to pass, still 10 minutes to go. We where containing them, passing the ball around slowly, wasting the time occasionally getting forward when an opportunity presents itself.
87 minutes, Mignolet with the ball, passes the ball right to Wayne Rooney's foot who didn't think twice about blasting ball into the net. I was heartbroken by conceding very late in the game, by a stupid mistake by our own, rather than being outplayed. Mignolet seem shaken and buckles under pressure. The next few minutes flew past thankfully without any mistakes, and the ref blows full time, and United are ecstatic to have clinched a point from us.
We weren't bad, but still our midfield need some strengthening. I need someone who can boss the field just like Gerrard in his prime, and a lethal finisher alongside Suarez. This game showed me we still have a lot of work to do to return to domination once more. Result was good though considering our injuries, and playing away, but still I have to make sure we don't such silly mistakes so late in the game...
The game has given me a lot of confidence personally, and a general indication that we're heading in the right direction...