Chelsea are preparing to take on Manchester United this Sunday in a match that has become crucial for both teams attempts to gain Champions League football next season.
Ironically, these two sides, who have both had their fair share of being England’s ‘big guns’ in recent times, are now both in similar situations with their squads in need of an overhaul, and backroom operations needing to ‘come of age’.
When you scroll through fan comments on social media, you can see the toxicity amongst both fan bases right now and the comments often mirror the other clubs fans so much so, that it’s hard to tell the difference at times.
I caught up with keen United supporter @TheManUtdWay who has gathered almost 80,000 followers on Twitter, in order to find out the situation ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Manchester on Sunday.
TCE – “United have had a similarly frustrating season to Chelsea. What’s the general feel amongst fans right now? Is there a toxicity like there is with Chelsea fans?”
TMUW – “I agree, I think the overall feeling amongst fans is disappointment and frustration in how we are still nowhere near the high standards we’ve made for ourselves over the years. There is definitely a toxicity amongst fans towards Ed Woodward, who is an investment banker and is dealing with the football aspects at the club, and the Glazers who many feel are using our club to pay off their own personal debts.”
TCE – “How do you feel about Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, the work he’s done/doing, and do you back him as the permanent choice?”
TMUW – “Ole came in and completely changed everything, but the honeymoon period is over and things are back to what they were under Jose. Some are questioning the decision to make him permanent mid season, but truth be told, any manager will fail under the current regime at United. The recruitment has been poor for many years and won’t change until the board bring in someone who knows about football.”
TCE – “Again, similar to Chelsea, a lot of the blame gets put on how the club is run, poor investments, wrong transfer moves, and player power. Do you think the players have weak mentalities and do you believe the board need to change ways?”
TMUW – “Yes, I think Chelsea has long been known for a club who can chop and change their managers when things go wrong and this has started to become the way at United. Player power in today’s game is at an all time high and they’ll feel whenever things go wrong they can blame the manager. Both sets of players have contributed to multiple sackings now and must take responsibility themselves. Recruitment has been poor at both clubs.”
TCE – “There is a real history between Chelsea and United, can you tell me your most memorable fixture between the two?”
TMUW – “I think it’s very difficult to pinpoint one game, but the battles when it was Sir Alex vs Jose Mourinho were great matches that meant a lot and often decided titles. Let’s hope we can both be back in those kind of matches soon!”
TCE – “How do you feel Paul Pogba is doing, and has done this season? Will he stay at United?”
TMUW – “Paul Pogba has had a decent season, and has contributed to 22 goals and assists for us this season, the most for a centre mid in the league, but he will always be the one who takes criticism from fans and rival fans. People question his loyalty but he chose to come to United over Real Madrid and was ultimately sold a promise by United that we would be competing again, we’re yet to get anywhere near in his time at the club. I don’t think he will leave this summer but if we continue to accept mediocrity, he will no doubt go, and who can blame him.”
TCE – “Views on Anthony Martial? He’s gone off the radar a lot.”
TMUW – “Anthony Martial is a confidence player. A confident Martial can take on any defender in the world, but he’s struggling for form and after a few injuries that have broken up his consistency, he’s looked really poor recently. But as you know from our game at Stamford Bridge, on his day he is capable of the sublime! (More on Sunday, please!)”
TCE – “How do you feel Chelsea’s season has gone and what are your views of Maurizio Sarri? Chelsea fan base seem split 50/50, half hate him, half love him!”
TMUW – “I actually really like Sarri and think he often gets misinterpreted by the English media. He has a clear desire of how he wants to play but I don’t think the players suit his style at all and moving one of the club favourites Kante out of position for Jorginho who I don’t think has reached anywhere near his standards at Napoli, it’s bound to upset a few. I think he will come good though and Chelsea must be patient, for once!”
TCE – “Who are Chelsea’s biggest threats for you on Sunday?”
TMUW – “No doubt the biggest threat is Hazard, he is simply a brilliant footballer to watch and can cause moments of magic in seconds. He’s very unlucky to miss out on the PFA team of the year. Loftus Cheek is very promising and you feel Higuain will have a taste for it after his goal vs Burnley”
TCE – “Do both teams HAVE to win tomorrow to cement Champions League football?”
TMUW – “Yes. I think it’s got to the stage where a win is the only result enough for both teams. United have dropped far too many points and need the win, if Chelsea get all 3 points they’ll go clear of us. It’s a huge match for our seasons.”
TCE – “Who needs Champions League football more out of the two?”
TMUW – “I think United do. As one of the “richest” clubs in the world and a slightly unproven manager, CL will be the big pull. Chelsea still have the Europa League to secure CL football too though so it’s just as big for both to try and lure players that can help catch up with Liverpool and City next season.”
TCE – “Who does United and Chelsea need to sell in the summer?”
TMUW – “We could be here all day talking about players United need to sell, but a few for starters: Mata (sadly his legs have gone!), Valencia, Young, Smalling, Jones, Darmian, Rojo. All deadwood. Chelsea: Alonso, Willian, Barkley. I think you could get much better upgrades on them!”
TCE – “Score Prediction for Sunday?”
TMUW – “I think it’ll be a tight game, but United know they need to put in a solid performance after recent defeats, and in front of our own fans too, so I think we’ll win 1-0.”
Thank you to The Man Utd Way for some great responses. Lets hope for an entertaining match on Sunday, and on my part, a Chelsea win!