If you want to talk about records and reputations, here are a couple of tasty little figures which will help to paint the picture for Norwich’s home tie against Manchester United on Sunday morning. Ryan Giggs, should he feature, will clock an astonishing 900 appearances for United, while Paul Scholes, with a lowly 685 United appearances, is registering 17 years playing alongside Giggs in the United midfield. Playing together, they’ve each earned 29 winners medals across all competitions, including two Champion’s League Winner’s medals.
So when Sir Alex Ferguson threatens to look to experienced players ahead of the match with Norwich, you can be fairly confident that he knows exactly what he’ll get from his two midfield legends.
I recently listened to an hour long interview with Sir Alex Ferguson. The man who previously refused to interview with the BBC for seven years, sat down and gave an in-depth interview to the BBC from the intimacy of his own home. “I don’t get nervous” the United legend said, “I get more nervous watching other teams play than I do coaching United”. Ferguson came across as calm and charming and composed.
In contrast, watching city boss Paul Lambert on the sidelines is more painful than (yet another) Adele acceptance speech. He’s up. He’s down. He whistles. He yells. He chases a loose ball and usually gets to it before the ball boy. However, despite their differences, both managers have found a remarkable winning formula, albeit one of those for almost 10 times longer.
So, in a week where Paul Lambert admitted he was “uneasy” with his induction into the Norwich City Hall of Fame, it seems more than fitting that he would be forced to pitch his cunning against the most successful and decorated football manager of all time.
If their first meeting of the season, which saw Norwich on the unfortunate end of a 2-0 defeat, is anything to go by, this could be a close one. While 2-0 suggests a solid win, it was anything but that for the Champions. We took the game too them with an attacking approach and had Anthony Pilkington had his own shooting boots on, rather than Fernando Torres’, we could and should have stolen a cheeky point.
I think tomorrow will be a similar affair, but with a larger role played by our top goal scorer, Grant Holt. Wayne Rooney was particularly quiet in that game and with the potential of a sore throat (really?) keeping the 22-goal-man out of the fixture, Norwich might only have to face Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck, whose combined tally for the season is less than that of Rooney, but still greater than or equal to City’s top scorers, other than Holt.
However you slice it, we’re inevitably in for an exciting 90 minutes. Both teams have a tendancy towards fighting back and clinching crucial late goals. Manchester United will be carrying a small amount of anger from the Europa league loss, despite progressing to the next round. This typically results in a win for the Red Devils, but Paul Lambert will come with a game plan of his own. He too will be carrying disappointment from the 2-1 homes FA Cup loss last weekend to Leicester. Neither team makes a habit of losing two in a row.
This has got 2-2 tie written all over it in my opinion.