The Opposition View: Manchester United

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 27 November 2009

Next in line to face the questions I asked in "The Opposition View" is One United member and regular Old Trafford attendee Adam McIlroy.

Are you happy with how the season has gone so far?

The team's performances have been on and off but we've picked up points along the way and qualified in Europe too which is satisfactory, but we could have done better. Performances like those against Tottenham and Wigan show how we can play but then we've been lucky in games against the likes of Arsenal - not to mention poor displays against the likes of Liverpool. Been a real mixed bag this season, as it usually is for us early on.

More recently, our performances against Chelsea (despite the result) and Everton have been stronger, we know that if come Christmas we're within a few points of top spot we'll push on in the New Year, where we usually get stronger, and get back top of the pile.

One spot where improvement is a must is in defence - we've been unfamilarly shaky at the back.

What do you make of Avram Grant's appointment as Pompey manager? Can he keep us up or are we doomed?

Avram Grant, in my opinion, was harshly treated by Chelsea. He got them within a kick of winning the Champions League and I think it was unfair that he got sacked - whether he can improve things at Pompey will remain to be seen.

I think January is an important time for the club, he really needs to get a few of the players he wants in and maybe get rid of some. His appointment should see you remain in the Premier League though, under Paul Hart I could only see
Portsmouth being relegated.

Sir Alex Ferguson seems to get away with a lot but has a touchline ban to serve at
Fratton Park. Do you think the FA have been lenient with him in the past (like when he didn't get punished after your FA Cup defeat in 2008) and will the ban have any effect on the way United play on Saturday?

I think The FA's inconsistencies in punishing managers and players is clear to be seen - you can say we've been leniently dealt with in the past but on other occasions we've been harshly dealt with. Fergie himself though, he has got away with a bit in the past, although a lot of what he says I can't help but agree with.

He'll still be in the stands on Saturday and in contact with his bench so I don't think it'll change the way we play, at least it shouldn't, he'll have his time with the team before the game and at half time so that should be sufficient.

United have many top quality players in the side but who has been the best performer so far this season and who else will Pompey have to be particularly wary of?

Our best performer has been Patrice Evra, I don't think he's had a bad game this season. Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher and Dimitar Berbatov are the players who have been impressive too, although Wayne Rooney has hit a bit of a dry patch in terms of scoring more recently.

Come Saturday, as always, Wayne Rooney will be the one to watch out for. He's due a goal which could mean trouble for
Portsmouth's defence.

How much do United miss
Rio Ferdinand at the back?

Rio Ferdinand would be a massive loss for any team although his form has been inconsistent this season but I think that's due to his injuries. Nemanja Vidic hasn't been impressive at all and I think, in all honestly, he should be sold in the Summer to pave way for Jonny Evans to cement a place in the first XI. I've really grown frustrated with Vidic, I think all the talk in the Summer about a move to Barca may have been true - it seems like a Ronaldo-like situation where he'll eventually go and his heart really doesn't look in it this season. If we could get £20m for him, I'd take it.

Our defence is still strong though without Rio Ferdinand but definitely lacks that composure and leadership
Rio brings, which in the big games can be vital.

Are there any other weaknesses in the team that Pompey can exploit come Saturday?

Nemanja Vidic can be a weakness, at times. Against quick players he's usually at his weakest - if I was an opposing manager with an explosively pacy striker, I'd definitely target Vidic.

Fratton Park is a bit of a bogey ground for Manchester United, isn't it?

I can remember a few games we've struggled there. Rio Ferdinand scoring an own goal in a 2-0 defeat, Steve Stone's goal giving you guys a 1-0 win, a 1-1 draw when Benjani got an equaliser and Cristiano Ronaldo (I have tried not to mention his name throughout this) was sent off and of course, the FA Cup match at Old Trafford in which you won. So yeah, you've probably faired better against us than most other teams have - I think being under the leadership of a new manager can sometimes inspire a team to a shock result - I really hope that doesn't happen this time around.

I've just realised, United were his first opponents as
Chelsea manager too. Hopefully the same result!

This looks like an easy game on paper for the Champions but are you at all worried given the "new manager effect" and United's less than impressive record at
Fratton Park?

As said in my response to the previous question, I am wary of that, I'm confident though that with our 'first team' players getting a rest midweek, they'll be raring to go and after the Everton game we should be going into this full of confidence.

Predict the outcome of the match.

I think United will win, 2-0. Wayne Rooney with the brace.

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