Date: 6th May 2011 at 12:45pm
Written by:

Saturday May 28th 2011, 19.45.

Incase you’ve been living under a rock you will know that is when Manchester United take on Barcelona in the Champions League final.

The ghosts of our last encounter still haunt those involved with the club as we were contained and beaten by a superior side on the night but this month we get a chance to avenge that.

Sir Alex Ferguson has continually insisted that he knows where he went wrong and given the chance he would rectify his mistakes from that night in Rome so in 3 weeks he gets a chance to do so and whilst many are writing us off, secretly there is a faith in Sir Alex amongst fans.

Whether Barcelona have strengthened from that game depends on opinion but you will be hard pressed to find anyone who feels Messi hasn’t improved and the addition of Villa etc makes them an even more daunting prospect but we too have changed and whilst we may have lost personnel like Ronaldo and Tevez the team has developed too with players like Nani maturing and Vidic and Ferdinand’s partnership looking strong amongst other things. We can also count on the addition of players like Valencia and the goal scoring sensation Javier Hernandez to aid our cause.

But there is potentially a huge bonus that could make our job just that bit easier.

Against Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi final we witnessed a grave injustice as Darren Fletcher was red carded for a perfectly legal challenge on Cesc Fabregas and was thus ruled out of the final. I remember it well as a number of Arsenal fans remarked to me, ‘If we’re not going there then neither is he!’ United appealed to UEFA but nothing was done and Fletcher again missed the final of European football’s biggest competition.

This time around it appears that Sir Alex is intent on having Fletcher on the field. His form hasn’t been as good as it was in 09 but the fact he has had a stomach virus that has seen him lose body mass could have something to do with it. He returned against Arsenal’s reserves last Thursday and although he looked well short of match fitness, it was a huge step.

Sir Alex realises his importance and has said about the energetic midfielder,

“Wednesday (against Schalke) was a step forward but that 20 minutes was just to give him a boost really because the boy has a bit to do yet.

“He has almost has three weeks to the final and that is his target. If he does reach it, it would be a great boost to us. As we all know he is a big-game player.”

The boost would be massive, given Fletcher’s style of play having him on field would be perfect. Last time around it was Xavi and Iniesta that did the most damage from midfield so to have a ‘destroyer’ like Fletcher in there could help negate some of their influence.

Another bonus is the effect he could have on the performance of Messi.

Messi is a footballing terrorist in every sense of the word. The best laid plans of any manager can be torn asunder by one flash of brilliance from the Argentine maestro. He did it with his great solo effort against Real in the first leg of the semi final and realistically he can do it to us. There is no proven way of stopping him but looking at how he plays there are things you can try.

Reading Justin Mottershead’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Lionel Messi, he made a point that immediately made me think of Fletcher,

It’s difficult to ask a central defender to look after Messi as the diminutive Argentinean has the ability to drop so deep you ideally need a defensive midfielder to pick him up.

I think Fletcher has the discipline to do this job and protect the back four. It would mean us losing out on the energy he provides all over the field but for me it is a sacrifice for the greater good.

Regardless of what capacity Sir Alex intends to use him, he is determined to have his man on the field on the Saturday evening and has even set out a schedule,

“We have Blackburn and Blackpool in the Premier League and also Gary Neville’s testimonial so there is some game time there that could help him to reach his target.”

Hopefully these games will afford Fletcher the time he needs to get back into shape because he will be needed in what will be his Champions League final debut.


53 responses to “The man being tasked with stopping Lionel Messi and Barcelona”

  1. Steven 111 says:

    Very few teams have ever brought the fight to Barca. They simply do not allow it. Your play at Wembley will be entirely dependent on Barca’s. Not the other way around

  2. RedScot says:

    ‘Your play’ oic!
    Read between the lines United supporters

    • Steven 111 says:

      ”The undercover Barca fan has finally been uncovered. Speculation is mounting that he gave away his cover because he did not spread the United propaganda.”

      • RedScot says:

        What Propaganda is this’Your play’.A tad jealous mate of United being in a champions league final, pole position in the Premiership, our’s to lose

        • RedScot says:

          You will be like that Idiot Triggs on here the other day, that destroyed an article on Mourhino.
          Which when I read the comments I laughed at the stupidity of the comments, bothering about a ‘troll’

        • Steven 111 says:

          No need to get personal here. My arguments are better simply as. Just like Barca.

  3. RedScot says:

    I new he was not a United supporter(Steven111) call me slow if you like!But I read what other people post, its a bad habit, I have learned.
    Anybody who is so heavily critical of our players and in support of Barcelona’s does not ring true to me!I will leave you with it.Read this though!
    I will be

    • Steven 111 says:

      Good luck in final anyway. United are great team even though I criticise their players a lot.

      • RedScot says:

        Found out! Fail…..”even though I criticise their players a lot”.

      • james holden says:

        It’s a final, I know the cliqué but anything can happen. Yes Barca are an amazing team and we may well get played off the park. But Barcelona aren’t infallible, they can lose and have lost to utd before. There are tactics that will stop the Barca engine room. Fergie hopefully and I trust will get it right. We have the quality to beat them, let’s hope the boys do!

    • jonathan says:

      No doubt. Maybe his favorite website featuring semi-nude Barca players was down and he came here with all his pent up frustration.

      Good Lord, I think most people on this site fully respect Barca, but this guy evidently took the mantle of world’s biggest fanatic left behind by Bin Laden. It’s a damn United site, so it’s pretty normal we talk about tactics and our belief to win. But anything less than joining Steven 111 & co’s Barca circle jerk apparently isn’t good enough for him. Maybe he should troll on a Gunner site and he should find a few to join him.

      • RedScot says:

        Spot on Jonathan.It took a younger United supporter to recognise this.God bless mate, lets think of “our next” game.One game at a time.I so want the 19th for our manager, my hero, being a young Scots lad to do what he set out to do some 25 years ago.It involves perches.Cmon United

      • Steven 111 says:

        No need to get personal and talk vulgar and with a lack of grace and humour.

        I’m just putting across an argument as to why you are wrong that Fletcher and Utd will stop Barca. You have no argument.

        • RedScot says:

          Talk vulgar….You have not seen me clearly! I deal in facts, you deal in annoying United supporters with your ‘anal’ contribution.
          You want United stopped….I think I explained with my post about Darren Fletcher in the Spain game, which you refuted, blindly.I am Scottish so I simply know more about the game than you?
          Tell me Sweetie who scored the goals?When and where, from what positions.Did Gerard Pique knock one past his own goalkeeper?
          What was the attendance?
          If you want to piss around you have met your match!

        • Steven 111 says:

          Everyone knows Scottish people are miserable, stubborn and set in their ways.

          How come Scotland are brutal at football? Because they don’t know how to play it properly. You clearly do not know anything about football. If you think Fletcher is more than an average player you are deluded or blindly patriotic. Judge him honestly not as a United or Scottish fan.

          Plus you obviously are not versed in world footballing matters. Your ignorance is clear to see. One of those idiots who only watches the Pl yet see fit to pass judgement on teams they have not seen. I watch Barcelona every week. I watch United every week. I have also seen 7 Barca players dominate the World Cup with Spain.

          Barca are by far the superior team. For goodness sake you have two pensioners playing in the middle of the park, plus Carrick who needs minutes to pick a pass and is slow. Park Ji Sung and Flecther. Asian and Scottish midfielders(Says it all). Poor poor players. All they can do is run around for a long time. Well done to them. Good stamina unfortunately can’t play football.

      • Steven 111 says:

        More than welcome to join our Barca jerk circle as opposed to your United one. We come first everytime. Get huh? Chuckle chuckle.

  4. Tam says:

    Steven 111,You’re scaring me! 🙁

    • RedScot says:

      Dont let him scare you mate, he is an attention seeker.Enjoy yer night Reds.
      Believe, just …

      • Steven 111 says:

        You think I destroyed the argument made. Thanks

        • RedScot says:

          No kisses, damm you

        • Steven 111 says:

          Obviously you can’t keep to football talk cause you are getting destroyed by a more articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable person.

          You want kisses get a girlfriend sad man.

  5. Say no to nut huggers! says:

    Is this Steven 111 a bot or something? Seems like he just wants to have a fight with everyone, chill and take Barca’s nuts off your chin dude.

    I’m sure there is a lady (or judging by your posts a fella) out there that you could be paying just as much attention to!

  6. Daniel Nunez says:

    Darren is a brilliant player no doubt about it, but i dont think he will start .. I belive that the starting XI will be this

    VDS ( C )
    Rafael Rio Vidic Evra

    Nani Giggs
    Anderson I Belive Will Start do to his form at the moment ..He is a strong lad … I belive he can hold of Xavi and Iniesta With His Strenght and He Can Creat Goals and With Luck Score
    With Scholes behind him to creat chances for both wayne and javier … Wayne will be droping back to help ando in the midfield to help marking Xavi or Inesta and Nani to act as a second striker .. Javier Has Already Beaten Both Puyol and Inesta in the Mexico vs Spain Game .. He is much faster then both of them .. He beat casillas .. I think he can beat valdez easily

  7. RedScot says:

    Hi Mate you would drop Fletcher for Anderson, this form is Everton(great game) and one game against the Germans. ok. Not knocking Anderson here, but you want him for why, in place of Darren.Did Rome not teach us a lesson, if you dont learn from history, you cant improve!

  8. bill says:

    Problem with man marking a player, is it leaves you exposed in other areas whether that’s in defence or in midfield.

    If Messi beats Fletcher or Fletcher has a lapse in concentration, we will be left vulnerable and in that split second, Barca may score.

    I dont think Messi can/should be man marked. Messi moves everywhere and it’d be like man marking Rooney but harder. Just play a flat back 4 (restirct full backs forward runs) then really congest the midfield.

    Play 2 CMs, get Rooney to drop deep and Park to drift in and give Xavi and Iniesta no time on the ball. Alves will also need looking after

    One huge problem with barca is their front 3 score almsot ALL their goals. Xavi and Iniesta (although he has scored mroe lately) are not goal scoring midfields. Villa has been compeltely off form and Pedro isnt the greatets individual imo. Stop Messi and we should stop Barca scoring.

    • Steven 111 says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem when the MVP have scored 100 goals this season. Messi didn’t score against Real at Camp Nou in the 5-0 battering. Take Rooney and Hernadez out and United don’t score. Stupid argument. Iniesta is also having his best goal-scoring season. Alves, Pique and Xavi also chip in. Messi scored on average every game he plays so it is liely he will score and assist.

  9. Jane says:

    Messi will destory man u. I cannot wait to see him play against Man U towards the end of may.

    GOD what a handsome hadnsome man. Marry me Messi 🙂

  10. panda coin says:

    Nice work. Askin’ for a sequel. 🙂