The Opposition: Manchester United

Last updated : 25 May 2009 By Pete Shaw
The Gameplan
I'd like to be able to second guess Sir Alex's team selection, but after a season where he's continued to throw up surprises, nearly every time with successful outcome, your guess is as good as mine as to who will turn out for our final league game. The use of our squad this season has been the backbone to everything we have achieved and it is the team rather than individuals, like last season and Ronaldo's 42 goals, that have pushed us over the finish line.

Saying that, despite the obvious satisfaction and happiness from last weekend, I don't think you'll be seeing the tea lady, kitman and lots of kids playing next week. Yes, key players will be rested, but despite the fact that we don't have a fixed starting XI and have a decent team from 2 different possible XIs to start with, with questions about the integrity of the league, Fergie will no doubt mix it about a bit.

I bet Ronaldo wants to play to win the golden boot. Will he? Who knows, but the formations of late have been 4-5-1, to 4-4-2, to 4-3-3, and that's just in one half, another impressive addition to our bow that we can change from defence to attack in a second. Of course we've been able to spend money to do this, but the incredible achievement of Fergie's United sides is that we have a core backbone coming nurtured through the club. Scholes and Giggs may now be the golden oldies, but Macheda and Welbeck who may well get some minutes this weekend have come through and kept the conveyer belt looking nice and shiny in recent months.

We do well on set pieces, and on counter attack, and though our goal threat hasn't been as fluent as a year ago, it is the defence which, with its record run of clean sheets, probably settled the title in our favour. We're powerful and fit. It's no coincidence that we score so many late goals. The popular myth of ref's helping us near the end is rubbish. We actually just have a team that are as powerful near the end as they are at the start, and you can see sides wilt in the final third of a game where Unied don't. Obviously the strong bench to bring on subs also helps that.

None really. The thing I liked about Hull this season at Old Trafford is that they had a go. Not many sides do that, and if they do, they often get a sore nose. Despite our win, you worried us and I'd argue had us shaking as much as any side did for a period during a game in the league. We know we are blessed as Utd fans to watch the football we do, and despite again the myths, many of us have been here a lifetime and are happy with all we have seen recently, after seeing not so great times 30-odd years ago. I don't think many Utd fans would begrudge Hull staying up so long as United have given the final game a best shot; and us winning but you still staying up would probably see smiles all round!

With Fletcher suspended for the European Cup final, he may get a chance for his last game, and Ben Foster is now out for the season with a thumb injury when I'm sure he'd have started, so you may see the Pole in goal who can be a bit shaky on crosses, but is a good shot stopper on the deck. Rio may make his return but he's struggled with niggly injuries these past few months.

Player by Player
Mystic Meg couldn't predict this starting line up but I'll give it a go:
Tomasz Kuszczak - May well be on the move this summer, frustarted with his limited starts.
Rafael - A great first season. Pacey, skillful, but he can lunge in early at the moment and get caught out. Great prospect though.
Evra and O'Shea - Dependable rocks!
Vidic - Player of the season. Just gives his all and the sort of player normal fans appreciate as he doesn't give it the big I am.
Jonny Evans - Sort of limping to the finish line with a few injuries that need to get rested, but with Rio out, he can't. He's slotted in well.
Carrick - Our counducter. Underrated but so great to watch as he pings the ball around.
Scholes and Giggs - No more need be said. Legends. Giggs, 11 titles, we keep saying how long can he keep going for, but he never stops and has a great end to the season.
Ronaldo - Took a while to get going but hit form recently. Wants that Golden boot, that he's currently tied with Anelka on.
Tevez - Probably his last league game for the club. A fighter, and fans' favourite.
Rooney - Really hit top class form recently, and hitting the world class potential many Utd (and England) fans hoped for.
Nani - Probably the only player to disappoint over the course of the season. Has potential but can frustrate.
Macheda - Tough kid, he and Welbeck an unknown quantity for opponents to handle at the moment.
Anderson - Ended the season well, a midfield dynamic that can run all game.
Berbatov. Not yet lived up to high expectation but shown glimpses. Has the skill, needs to find more goals.
Darron Gibson - Done well in every game he's been called in so far. Along with the Brazilian kid Possebon, one to look out for.

Written by Pete Shaw of Red News