Opposition Q & A
West Ham fans have let out a collective sigh of relief over the past week or so, as our emphatic victories against Norwich and Watford, combined with the results of our fellow strugglers mean we are to all intents and purposes absolutely safe from relegation. We can now relax and hope our players can continue their recent form and finish off the season in fine style. Ahead of the game I spoke to Andy Cook lifelong Man Utd fan and founder of holdiay web site takethefamily.com to discuss the game and the season.
Hi Andy, Man Utd are currently sat in 5th position as we enter the last 2 matches of the season. What would constitute a successful season for you?
Earning the right to play in the Champions League next season. Finishing third would be a bonus.
After ringing the changes over the manager’s position since Fergie left, Man Utd seem to have finally settled on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is he set to be there for the long haul? What did you think of the tenures of José Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal?
Yes, though ‘long-haul’ these day is all relative, with Watford already on their 4th manager this season. In contrast to Moyes, Mourinho and Van Gaal, Solskjaer has reminded the team how to play lively, attacking football and have fun. Everyone wants to be selected and make a difference, that wasn’t so evident with his predecessors.
Is your ex-manager David Moyes going to make West Ham a better team?
He certainly has passion and determination. And the results are improving. Not sure whether that’s enough though, see above.
It must be a bit galling for you to see your big rivals in Liverpool and Man City bossing the League over the past few years. Do you think you will be able to sustain a winning campaign in the Premier League next season?
Yes. And so could Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal based on recent form. I think it will be a lot more even next season among the top clubs. If our front-three continue to deliver, if Pogba and Fernandes continue to be great play-makers, if we shore up our defence…..then, yes, we could enjoy a very strong season.
Which two teams are going to join the above in the Champions League next year?
Chelsea and Manchester United. Leicester were favourites until very recently, the odds are now stacked against.
Which two teams are going to be demoted with Norwich?
Aston Villa and Watford, providing Bournemouth win at Everton.
West Ham have finally shrugged off their early season lethargy with a couple of decent displays, which if any of the West Ham players would you like to see at Old Trafford?
Which Man Utd player gets your vote for player of the year, and who else was in the running?
Has to go to Fernandes for having a massive impact in the short time he’s been with us. In recent months the front three have shown great promise and Pogba looks lively post-injury break.
Which player(s) have disappointed?
Jesse Lingard. And David de Gea has let in a few shockers.
It looks like you’ve got your forward line sorted for the next few years, but do the other parts of the team need bolstering over the summer?
We’ll need to see if De Gea is ‘merely’ suffering a bad spell. If not, then we’ll need to sign. Our defense needs further bolstering too.
*Highlights and lowlights of the season?
The four-nil win over Chelsea at the start of the season is a highlight and the 3-0 recent defeat to Chelsea is the lowlight. Other highlights include beating Manchester City twice.
Any particular memories of Man Utd/ West Ham Utd games of the past?
Our 7-1 victory in 1999 stands out, the game had everything: coming back from behind, a trademark Beckham free-kick, a Scholes hat-trick that included a very cheeky back-heel and even super-sub Ole got on the score-sheet. Even West Ham supporters will enjoy highlights – check it out on Youtube.
I very much doubt that, and will certainly not be revisiting those highlights! I prefer to remember the Di Canio FA Cup game, or the final game at Upton Park, among many others. How will Man Utd line up against West Ham this week? Players/Formation please.
The changes they made for Chlesea didn’t deliver so they will revert back to their ‘usual’ formation. Martial, Greenwood and Rashford up front, supplied by Matic, Pogba, Wan-Bissaka and Fernandes. Lindelof and Williams are also likely to start. Other positions really depend on recovery from recent injuries.
West Ham will be looking to continue their current form of scoring 3 or 4 goals against you. Are you confident that you will be able to see us off, or are West Ham going to put the spanner in your end of season spokes as we have done a couple of times in the past? Prediction for score please.
I’m predicting a lively game, 4-2 in Manchester United’s favour. Yes, you have a good recent record against us. However, you’re 25 points adrift of us (and an extraordinary 56 shy of Liverpool!). We have the Champions League spot resting on this game, you don’t have the same need for victory. Good luck!
Many thanks to Andy for his time. Blown away with enhanced optimism I do actually think we can win this one, so I’m going to go for a 1 – 2 away win. COYI