A tale of two strikers: Misfiring Rooney & Torres to meet at OT

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
wayne rooney
(Photo: Tsutomu Takasu)

wayne rooney

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE, 19 September 2010, 1330BST
Manchester United

The eagerly-anticipated grudge match between Manchester United and Liverpool, both champions of England on 18 occasions, appears to have turned amicable this year.

Bonds exist between these two clubs. Roy Hodgson is a close friend of Sir Alex Ferguson with the pair sharing a healthy working relationship – a fact that was illustrated as the two managers exchanged compliments at their respective pre-match press conferences on Friday. It is a stark contrast to the very public animosity between Ferguson and former Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez.

Both sets of supporters are currently downcast over ownership issues. Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s reign at Anfield and the unrelenting Glazer family dynasty in Manchester have dampened the spirits of both sets of fans in recent years.

Then there is the stuttering form of headline acts Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres. United’s number ten hit the front pages of British newspapers in recent weeks with Ferguson making the controversial call to drop the former Everton forward for the familiar trip to Goodison Park last week.

Meanwhile, Hodgson’s star striker Torres has struggled to find any resemblance of form since returning from Spain’s triumphant World Cup campaign in South Africa.

Ferguson this week decided to appoint Nemanja Vidic as permanent United captain. It is a well-timed decision by the wily Scot and it may help his Serbian defender finally get a stranglehold on Torres; the striker has left Vidic reeling in recent encounters.

For the first time in a number of seasons Vidic must be the overwhelming favourite to win that particular battle. Torres looks in a fragile state, both physically and mentally, regardless of Hodgson’s unequivocal defence of his ailing star.

Skipper Steven Gerrard is expected to return to the fold with his partners in midfield to be decided between new signings Raul Merieles, Christian Poulsen and Lucas, who scored against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday.

United, who struggled to break down the resilient Rangers in midweek, are likely to field Dimitar Berbatov and Rooney in attack, with Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Patrice Evra all expected to feature in Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford.

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz admits he’s living a ‘dream’ playing for Chelsea FC
Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard: What I really think about Liverpool FC signing Thiago Alcantara
Frank Lampard
‘I have no doubt’: Frank Lampard opens up about Kai Havertz at Chelsea FC
Frank Lampard
Chelsea FC agree £26m deal for eighth summer signing – report
Man United legend Ryan Giggs
‘The fans will want that’: Ryan Giggs delivers his verdict on Man United loss
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issues Man United transfer update after Palace defeat
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Novak Djokovic
Rome Masters 2020: Novak Djokovic wins record 36th Masters title against Schwartzman
Michael Owen
Michael Owen reacts to new Liverpool FC and Tottenham signings
Simona Halep
Rome Premier 2020: Third time lucky for Halep, who wins after Pliskova retirement