16/10/2009 12:39, Report by Paul Davies
Back with a bang
There's not much chance of the Reds’ globetrotting troops easing back into club action, as much as they’d like to at the start of a tough week - Bolton, then CSKA in Moscow and Liverpool away next Sunday. I think that’s what you call back with a bang.
You have to say it's unlikely that United will win all three. With our star of the season Wayne Rooney missing Bolton, and possibly Moscow, it’s not going to be easy. That much we do know. But what we don’t know is just how the Reds will react after the draw, and worryingly disjointed display, against Sunderland last time out.
Just as the Reds seemed to have answered many of the questions that beset the summer and opening weeks of the campaign, doubts have resurfaced. And we’ve had a fortnight to dwell on them. So getting ‘back on track’ – if that’s what we need to do after winning 'only' eight of our last nine matches – is crucial against Bolton, a game that always seems to get their fans more excited than ours.
Such has been United’s recent dominance in this fixture that playing the Trotters at Old Trafford is probably one of those games that many Reds see as an automatic win. Yet it’s never that straightforward, and could be doubly tough after an international break. Not that travelling halfway round the world and back constituted much of a break for Antonio Valencia or Ji-sung Park.
The one thing guaranteed by the visit of Gary Megson's side is the most physical game of the season. Hardly an appealing prospect when the majority of your players have had less than 48 hours to prepare. Victory here would set us up nicely for the two games to follow, certainly confidence wise, but it will have to be hard-earned.
By contrast, a draw in Moscow would be a good result. The two wins in the group so far mean the Reds are over halfway to qualification with four matches to go. Sir Alex has dismissed the part the plastic pitch could play in the tie, but taking anything on that