News and Views
Reading Hope For Upset At Old Trafford
06 January 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?
The Royals are on the road this weekend as they make the journey to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. The game has been much hyped up with the return of Reading manager and former United defender Jaap Stam to Manchester. Stam played a big part in Manchester United's success between 1998 and 2001 - including being part of their famous treble winning side. He insists his return to Old Trafford shouldn't be about him but about his new club attempting to pull off what would be a huge, and massively unlikely, cup upset: "It's nice to go back. I love the club, I love the fans and I had a great time there. But this game is not about me, it's about Reading facing Manchester United at Old Trafford."
The game has attracted a lot of interest from the media with the Jaap Stam angle, and Reading's recent success in the Championship may make it an interesting clash. As with any cup competition game featuring Manchester United, the tie was immediately selected for live TV coverage and will be shown on BT Sport. The game kicks off at 12:30pm which means an early start for nearly 5,500 Reading fans supporting their side at Old Trafford as they attempt to avoid an early exit from the cup. Reading fans will be heading north looking forward to a day out rather than a realistic hope of pulling off a shock, but we can always hope the magic of the cup makes an outing too. Reading's ticket allocation has been sold out for some time, but did go down to general sale, meaning most fans that wanted to go will be there.
When the draw was made BT Sport might have had hopes of screening some kind of upset with Reading up to third in the Championship and Manchester United struggling in the Premier League. However, since then Jose Mourinho has truly turned his club's fortunes around, guiding them to six consecutive Premier League victories. Since the draw the Red Devils have conceded just 3 Premier League goals while picking up maximum points to close the gap on the top four.
The only positive news for Reading fans is that Mourinho is likely to rest some of his star players to give some fringe players a run out. The United boss has confirmed however that Wayne Rooney will start and captain his side. Sergio Romero is confirmed to start in goal. However, even an under-strength United team is likely to be world class and will be expected to dish out a firm defeat to Reading. Mourinho is likely to go with some youth so that will probably include massive future, and current, prospect Marcus Rashford. United are also likely to go Dutch themselves to give some game time to the talented 19 year old Timothy Fosu-Mensah. He made 8 Premier League appearances last season but has clocked up just one so far this term. Luke Shaw is also likely to be included for the home side.
Jaap Stam has fielded reasonably strong sides in the League Cup, and is likely to go with a strong line-up again in the FA Cup. He has also vowed not to change his style of play stating "Our belief is possession. We still want to play." With Stam determined to continue his tactics that have been so successful in the league this season, a dramatic changes of personel seems unlikely. Ali Al Habsi signed a new contract this week to keep him at the Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2019. With Jaakola recently struggling with injury, Al Habsi seems near certain to continue in goal. Callum Harriott will miss out after picking up an injury just before the game against Fulham was abandoned at half time. Blackett will probably be given a chance to play against his old club, although Jordan Obita will be hoping to take his place in the starting eleven. The in-form Liam Kelly will be hoping to be given another starting chance.
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