MANCHESTER UNITED (H)

25/10/19

After Carrow Road pays its respects to City legend Duncan Forbes, there is a game against Manchester United to win. Andrew Lawn speaks to United fan Gavin Caney to set the scene

Andy - Big relegation 6-pointer Saturday no?

Gavin - Ha. Good one. To be fair, we’re obviously only three points ahead of Norwich and there’s a decent chance we might lose again on Sunday. But I’m confident our biggest fight will be to finish in the top half, rather than avoid the bottom three.

I think you're right but say you're 15th at Christmas, is Ole still at the wheel?

Probably not given our ability to shift through managers since the GOAT, Sir Alex, left the building.

Regardless of Ed Woodward and the owners - who are our biggest problem - I wouldn’t sack Ole. We can’t keep chopping and changing managers. We’ve had five permanent ones since 2013 and someone needs time to build a squad entirely of their making and implement a philosophy.

Again, I agree. I hope he gets the time because he seems a likeable guy. What would success look like for United this season? It seems ridiculous to suggest qualifying for the Europa League, but...

To be fair, given where we are now, I’d take it.

I think the top four is perhaps beyond us but everyone is tripping over themselves to mess up. Take Liverpool and Man City out of the equation and the rest of the so-called big hitters are not really at it.

Winning the Europa League would be an immense success, given it guarantees Champions League qualification. A decent FA Cup run would be nice too.

On to Norwich, what have you made of City's return to the top flight?

The injury crisis makes it hard to judge as I feel Norwich would be at least three to six points further up the table had they been struck by less bad luck.

That said, I expected them to struggle away from home and they need that promising point at Bournemouth to kickstart some decent form on the road. The highs of the Man City victory at home and lows of Aston Villa’s romp in Norfolk shows the potential on the one hand for a push up the table while also showing on the other a relegation dogfight is a possibility too.

We have to stop agreeing like this...

With all that in mind, how do you see Sunday's game? City fans, myself included, are more confident heading into Sunday than we were Bournemouth. For me that's a combination of it being at the Carra, you raising your game last weekend and then having to travel to Belgrade on a Thursday night.

I'm not sure to be fair. The draw against Liverpool was a step in the right direction. Yet it's clear to see that it's not the big games that are our problem.

Our advantage might be that we've become a counter-attacking team under Ole and you'll come flying at us so hopefully we can pick you off on the break.

We've snuck a few undeserved wins at the Carra over the years so I'd take the same on Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 0-0 or 1-1 but let's go 2-1 United.

The counter-attacking aspect is a very good point, but one I am sure Farke will be well aware of, so I don't expect us to over commit. That said, I'd be quite happy for Dan James to pull up with a hamstring strain in the warm-up.

Given the recent travails, what is the atmosphere like among the fans at the moment? It seems less poisonous than it was at say Arsenal in the final Wenger days?

I don't get up to games as much as I used to because I still (try) play football. But there's absolutely no chance of 'real' fans turning on Ole. I made it up for the Arsenal game last month and even though it was pretty dour his name was still being sung. He's loved for what he did as a player and fans realise he isn't the problem - those lay upstairs.

United's away support is some of the best in the Premier League and it'll take a massive amount of misery before it turns poisonous.

Is there ire directed at the owners then?

Obviously when you stole our scarfs, that was a very visual (and vocal) campaign against their ownership, but it quickly seemed to just fade away and, at least from the outside appears to have been replaced with apathy. Is that fair and given the scale of the ownership problems from the glory days (no clear plan, awful recruitment, decaying stadium, on-pitch woes etc) why aren't there more howls of protest on Sir Matt Busby Way?

Apologies for that.

It’s tricky. We’ve obviously got huge problems but given what goes on elsewhere (and it’s all relevant to each club) it seems pretty selfish to be protesting. We make millions, we spend millions and we’re in the Premier League and probably always will be. We’ve fallen away and it’s a mess but things could be a lot worse.

Most of the anti-Glazer brigade helped form and now support FC United. The rest of us sort of get on with it and hope we don’t have to wait as long as we did through the 70s and 80s for the glory days to return.

That is interesting and I think it touches on a wider thing, with what football is to people. It makes me wonder, who do you think enjoys their football more; the Stretford End in the Premier League or FC United's fans down in the Northern Premier?

I spent most of my teenage years following King’s Lynn when I wasn’t at Old Trafford. It was more accessible, easier to get to and I maybe felt less guilty about not supporting a local side by being a United fan. United will always be my first love but Lynn are very, very close - or you could argue I support two teams, which I’m ok with given the difference in standard.

I groundhop a bit and visit different non-league grounds and absolutely love the raw experience of it all and the characters you meet. So, if you’re asking me, I’d say FC United’s fans have much more fun at (mainly) 3pm on a Saturday not paying through the nose for tickets to fund underperforming millionaire player wages.

Again, I agree.

Let's finish with a specific prediction. You've said 2-1 United, but I want goalscorers, minutes and even methods...

Wow. You drive a hard bargain.

Ok. United to take the lead in the 23rd minute through Marcus Rashford. Norwich will dominate a decent part of the game thereafter and equalise through Teemu Pukki in the 67th minute and push for a deserved winner. But we'll smash and grab in the 87th minute through Anthony Martial.

Or that's what I'm hoping anyway....

Let's hope you're hideously wrong.

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