As the Hammers head for what is their annual defeat at Ye Olde Trafforde, rumours abound that the script writers may have decided to shake it up for this year and instead of the usual Hammers implosion, are considering writing a new storyline where the brave visitors resist the early Mancunian pressure before suckering them at a set piece and then sucking them in for a breakaway match decider. This is a story that has been building after the usual veneer of invincibility has been worn beyond recognition in a Moyes-managed misery-laden first half of the Season.
The return of the ever-improving Raveldo can only serve to add further frustration to the storyline for the Mancs as the prodigal son returns to exact revenge upon his previous employers. How the current Manchester United side could benefit from the buzz that young Morrison brings! While it seems likely that Big Sam may elect to keep it tight for the first hour, what chance the wily Hammers boss will spring his starlet from the bench midway through the second half. No doubt Ravel has the ability to change the game and what better theatre to strut his undoubted stuff? The issue is whether he should start or be used as a game changing substitute? In Sam we trust.
Key to the Hammers possible success tomorrow will be a tight defence, especially in the first quarter. The return of the Tomkins-Collins pairing will help, but Man United's pace along the flanks will be a concern, especially at left back where none of McCartney, Ratz or Joey O’Brien are blessed with sprinting abilities. The little success that a blunt Spurs attack managed during Wednesday;s Capital One Cup Quarter Final was along the flanks where the Hammers struggled at times. Both starting wingers will need to provide support to their full backs, who will need to use their positional awareness to limit space for Valencia et al to run in to.
Equally, West Ham need to adopt a positive attitude – this United team are no world beaters and are likely to be without Rooney, Nani , Van Persie and Carrick. As such, this is a relatively inexperienced side, and the Hammers will hope to provoke edginess amongst the Old Trafford crowd by frustrating them in the early passages. The lack of physicality in the United side could well be a weakness that Big Sam’s troops can capitalise upon and Diame and Noble need to impose their presence on midfield against (probably) Cleverley and Jones.
Hammers fans will hope that the midweek heroics from Modi Maiga signal the beginning of a his ‘real’ Hammers career, while the performances of Matt Taylor and (quietly) Alou Diarra were most impressive and suggest that, despite all the talk of New year departures, they both may still have something useful to offer to the cause.
For tonight we dream of Old Trafford days involving Di Canio, Defoe and most memorably Carlos Tevez. What odds on Morrison joining that elite group by tomorrow evening?
Come On You Irons!!!