Look at this match anyway you'd like, but with the League Cup Final just over two weeks away, this is very much a dress rehearsal. However, the result tonight will not have any impact on the result of the League Cup Final and I don't expect them to be the same over ninety minutes.
Dress rehearsals are used to iron out any last minute glitches and to make sure that everyone knows their lines. You see, with dress rehearsals, the director, in this case Martin O'Neill, will always find a problem or two and he'll always find things to be done a little bit differently and better.
So, to our dress rehearsal and I was talking to someone last night who predicted we'd either get thrashed or play out the ninety minutes for a point. Basically, he couldn't see us beating Manchester United and to some extent, I am trying to set expectations at that level by mentioning it.
You see, tonight is very much about following a script and it very much focuses on centre halves, defending; full backs, stopping crosses and defending; midfielders, helping out at either end of the pitch and creating chances; and strikers, scoring them. Yes, I got that from here.
Bottom line, our script is a simple one to follow but it is new and we are playing with characters that maybe still need more time with it. It is also pointing out that the script Sir Alex Ferguson uses is also a simple one and that he has used many characters over the years and most of the time it has played out exactly how he would have liked.
The benefit to Martin O'Neill is that he has seen it play out many times and that is why I think we shouldn't be surprised that our script worked better against them this season.
Okay, before I start going round in circles, my point is, our script needs to be played out perfectly to beat Manchester United, but if it isn't tonight, don't be entirely surprised as I think with us playing again so soon, if there are any glitches or little problems, they will be fixed.
League Cup over League Position
So, if we lose tonight, we lose; would any of you really be surprised? Football is about winning silverware and we are not going to win the League but we could win the League Cup and I for one have put all my eggs in that basket.
Live updates, team news and some links
So, this is the match post and I will update with team news as and when we get it. In the meantime, there are a few more stories from around the web that are maybe not worth reading, but certainly worth knowing about. In some instances the titles will give the entire story away - I've done my best with a little description.
- Dwight Yorke asks for forgiveness - There are some things you just don't do I'm afraid. Great player for the club, but he crossed a line
- Cup Final ticket news - Basically, if you are a season ticket holder, get your ticket soon
- Carling Cup Final shirts - Order the Cup Final shirt here