Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1500th match in charge of Manchester United Football Club will be his last, the most trophy laden spell in Manchester United’s history will come to an end at around six o clock on Sunday Evening following United’s final game of the season against West Brom.
West Brom have had a fantastic season under Steve Clarke with the Baggies unfortunate not to push just further and secure European football for the 2013-2014 campaign. Manchester United head into tomorrow’s fixture with slightly more to play for that West Brom with the Champions hoping to equal Sir Alex Ferguson’s highest ever Premier League points total of 91 in his final year in charge, following a defeat to Chelsea at Old Trafford earlier this month the record could no longer be beaten and only three points picked up at The Hawthorns tomorrow will see United match their own record.
West Bromwich Albion look set for a summer of steady consolidation with Steve Clarke expected to stay at the club in order to continue his thus far successful foray into managemen. As a result of this there will be a multitude of players interested in joining West Brom who are most certainly looking like a team who can only improve further. The Baggies will however lose the services of loan striker Romelu Lukaku with the Belgian centre forward expected to return to Chelsea at the end of this campaign, as well as Lukaku, West Brom also are planning for the departure of Peter Odemwingie following the farcical circumstances in which the Nigerian attempted to force through a deadline day move to Queens Park Rangers in January.
West Bromwich Albion were also buoyed this week by the news that their Player of the Season, Gareth McAuley, has agreed a new two year contract with the club. The Northern Irish central defender has been an integral part of Steve Clarke’s solid defensive line this season and has formed a hard to beat partnership with Swedish international Jonas Olsson. Manager Steve Clarke was understandably delighted with McAuley’s decision to sign a new deal, “He’s been a stand-out performer this season and deserves every reward he gets. I’m absolutely delighted the deal has been done.”
It has also been confirmed that West Bromwich Albion will prior to kick off on Sunday afternoon give Manchester United a guard of honour to acknowledge their achievements this season in winning the Barclays Premier League title.
West Brom’s Steven Reid is a doubt for Sunday’s fixture following a knock picked up by the defender in last weekend’s defeat to Norwich City, Reid is the only injury doubt for Steve Clarke’s side as Chris Brunt returned to the side last weekend against Norwich following a spell on the sidelines through injury and striker Marc-Antoine Fortune will return from a suspension.
Sir Alex Ferguson in his final pre-match press conference confirmed that he had no new injury worries with Ashley Young and Chris Smalling the only remaining United stars missing through injury. Sir Alex also stated that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will be left on the bench on Sunday to give the defensive partnership which he described as the future, of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans a chance to play together. Anders Lindegaard will start the match in goal following a promise made by Sir Alex earlier in the campaign to ensure the Dane would get ten appearances in the League this season in order to qualify for a Premier League winners medal, however Sir Alex was unaware the rules had changed and Lindegaard no longer needed that many. Rafael Da Silva continues his suspension following his red card against Chelsea.
- Sunday’s referee Michael Oliver was only one year and nine months old when Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of his first ever match with Manchester United in November 1986.
- West Bromwich Albion haven’t beaten Manchester United in twelve attempts with the Baggies last victory over Sir Alex’s United coming in 2003 in a League Cup tie.
- West Br0m with 48 points so far this season have set their own record for highest ever Premier League points total with their previous best being 47 points.
- In 9 of the last 10 seasons, Manchester United have won their final game of the season with the one defeat coming at Old Trafford in 2007 when West Ham secured a 1-0 Carlos Tevez inspired victory to keep the Hammers in the Premier League.
Phil Jones has come to the fore as one of United’s most valuable defence players since his fantastic performances against Real Madrid in the European Cup in February and March. Since then Jones has been praised by Sir Alex Ferguson who believes the former Blackburn centre half can go on to become Manchester United’s greatest ever player.
Jones’ best position is still yet to be decided with his versatility allowing him to sit in midfield alongside Michael Carrick or even deputise at right back should Rafael be missing however he has looked most impressive for me at the heart of the defence. Whilst to some Phil Jones is a twitter phenomenon as a result of his various facial expressions pulled midgame, to many the former Blackburn man is an incredible reader of the game with the physical attributes to match, so often this year Jones’ ability to move quickly into positions and fearlessly make an attempt to win the ball have accompanied his ability to visualize how a move will develop seconds before it actually unfolds. With Rio Ferdinand’s contractual situation still yet to be resolved next season may well be the year Phil Jones will be United’s defensive rock.
The big Belgian centre forward will be undoubtedly looking to end his West Brom career on a high note before his return to Chelsea and there can be little argument that his twelve month spell at the Hawthorns has been the making of Lukaku as a Premier League player.
This season we have seen Lukaku adapt to the physical demands of the English game as well as getting used to how defenders operate on the whole in England, this has all been done without the pressure of leading a struggling Chelsea forward line which when you assess the situation would have been a disaster for young Lukaku. He can now return to Chelsea with experience of scoring goals in the top League and playing against tough defensive lines week in and week out before developing the more intricate parts of his game with better players around him at Chelsea. With the basics now in place Lukaku can return to Chelsea, adapt to the system under the new manager and be a successful footballer for Chelsea.
£20 bet wins you:
West Brom to win Ferguson’s last game in charge – £90
Van Persie to score first – £90
Lukaku to score first – £160
No goals scored – £230
West Brom to receive more Yellow cards – £51
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