In preparation for today’s Premier League fixture against Fulham, we talked to Cottagers blogger, Kyle, to discuss their recent form, Dempsey’s possible departure and array of attacking options!
CTS: Morning/ Afternoon/ Evening Kyle, after losing 5-0 in the reverse fixture, how do you think Martin Jol will approach this match?
I’m not sure, he’s been very unpredictable recently and it’s unfortunate because, a few weeks ago, we were riding high in 8th place, after 3 wins in a row, and Pogrebnyak had 5 goals in his first 3 games but since then we’ve suffered two consecutive losses; both of which we should have won on paper and taken 6 points from.
However, we’re now having to travel to Old Trafford and it looks like we may well be about to lose 3 matches in a row after just winning 3 matches in a row which is cause for concern. Against Swansea last week, Jol made changes for changes-sake in the line up, diverging from the successful formula we had worked out, and I’m just hoping he doesn’t do that again tonight.
CTS: What formula was that which was proving so successful?
Jol had developed an amazing partnership between Murphy (defensive) and Dembele (offensive), even though it’s an unorthodox position for the Belgian, which has done wonders for us recently. Then, we’ve had Pogrebnyak up front and he has formed a great partnership with Dempsey so with those four down the middle, we’ve been playing amazingly well.
However, against Swansea, he made some strange changes and took both Murphy and Duff out of the side, who have both been in fine form recently.
This interview is taken from our latest Man United pod (24 Minutes In), during which we also talk Bilbao, Wolves and Fulham! Available on iTunes or Stream it to your Mobile Device.
CTS: What does Pogrebnyak offer up front Zamora didn’t?
Effort, 100% Effort! He gives it every minute of every match, even when we were 5-0 up against Wolves, he wanted more. He is just a force up front- something you don’t get from Zamora, who didn’t give us all at all times for Fulham, even though I respect what he has done for the club. I think it’s the hunger that the Russian has which makes all the difference.
CTS: Partnering him up front is Clint Dempsey, do you think the American could be off to a bigger club in the summer?
It’s very interesting and something that has been talked about a lot by Fulham fans recently. From our point of view, he seems well anchored in London, in England. Does he really want to move his family abroad or to another place in England?
Currently, he is well on his way to becoming a Fulham legend but the other question is, which big side would he break into because there isn’t one you would say that Clint would definitely break into. I think he would rather start every match at Fulham than go to an Arsenal or a Tottenham and struggle to play as both those sides have really strong midfield and forward lines.
However, if Fulham can get £10 million+ for him then it may be in our interests to sell him as we have to buy low and sell high to stay successful. Therefore, is it in our best interests to keep him or sell him on? I’m not sure.
CTS: He’s a very talented player, I’d agree, but he seems to be in that midfield/ forward role that Tim Cahill made so famous a few seasons back and I’d argue that if he ever wants to play in the Champions League, he’ll have to leave this summer- it’s now or never.
Nonetheless, one player with plenty of CL experience is Diarra, how do you think he has done and what does he offer that Etuhu didn’t?
I feel for Etuhu as he is a good player but just doesn’t fit our style of play so I don’t blame him for wanting to leave.
Diarra has been interesting as he hasn’t played in a long time so is certainly not 100%. Therefore, Jol needs to decide whether or not to play him and allow him to get match fit, at the expense of the team in the short-term, or play the more in-form Murphy and Duff. I mean, we played Diarra against Swansea and we both know what happened there.
Strangely, Jol has emphasised his desire to lower the average age at the club so I’m not entirely sure how Diarra fits into that although it’s clear he brings an experience which no-one else offers.
CTS: Do you think his experience will compensate for his lack of athleticism when marking Rooney?
Well, I am assuming that he’ll start from the bench, as he’s not match fit, so I think Wayne will be more concerned by Danny Murphy.
CTS: Many United fans will be looking forward to a few goals if they see fived forwards in your line up, like last week, so do you expect Fulham to be much more defensive this week?
I do, certainly. I think we’ll be playing for a point which would be a great result, especially considering our away form.
I think Ruiz will drop to the bench and Duff will come in and I think you may even see Etuhu come in for Demeble, as he defensively is a real force.
CTS: Bearing that in mind, what would be your score prediction?
Considering our results on our travels, I think a convincing 2-0 victory to United would be reasonable.
You can follow Kyle on Twitter, @FulhamsFinest, and check out his Fulham blog here.