United play a remarkable 14 matches against North-West rivals this season - not since 1962/63 have we had to keep such a keen eye on our neighbours, noisy or otherwise. Here’s a reminder of who’s who in a long-running soap opera…
Blackpool (P80 W43 D17 L20 GF149 GA94)
First appeared Blackpool 4 Newton Heath 2, Division Two, Raikes Hall Gardens, 17.10.1896
Notes on character Like the lottery winner whose life changed forever after an unexpected windfall. Will they blow it on ridiculous extravagances – an outsized garden water feature, blond highlights – or sensibly aim for growth and stability?
Current plotline The rigours of Premier League life on a small squad can take their toll – how will Ollie cope with the fallout over the ‘Villa incident’? Yoga lessons? Hypnosis? Then there’s the wife and kids to feed…
Housewives’ choice Ian Holloway, disarming air – part exasperation, mostly inspiration.
Turn-off Limited capacity means not many Reds will savour one of football’s great days out.
Director’s notes In January 1962, United played the entire game against Blackpool with 10 men. Matt Busby submitted his team, but David Herd was injured in the warm-up. Subs were not permitted then. Herd was still credited with the appearance.
Next on Bloomfield Road, 04.12.10
Blackburn Rovers (P94 W43 D24 L27 GF171 GA135)
First appeared Rovers 4 Newton Heath 3, First Division (our first opponents), 03.09.1892
Notes on character Respected, distinguished veterans, founding members of the Football League.
Current plotline ‘Big Sam’ is looking to recreate his halcyon days at Bolton. Sam’s home improvements have made Rovers – mid-90s title-traders with United – a tough nut on their own patch, but they were taken to the cleaners at OT.
Housewives’ choice Phil Jones – teen defender on verge of England honours.
Turn-off El Hadji-Diouf, the doyen of pantomime villains.
Director’s notes Reds great Johnny Carey became Rovers’ boss on leaving OT in 1953.
Next on Ewood Park, 14.05.2011.