Old Trafford, Manchester
Tuesday, 19:45 BST
Manchester United in the Sir Alex Ferguson era nearly always went into the final home game with either the Premier League title in the bag or with all still to play for. But this season under new management, first with David Moyes in charge and now under interim player-manager Ryan Giggs, the club have lurched from one disaster to the next. The only silver lining is that with two games left in the season, United can shift focus and start finalizing the deal of bringing a new manager to Old Trafford.
Hull City’s season on the other hand is now all about their clash with Arsenal on May the 17th. Having all but secured their Premier League status after their rousing fight back at Craven Cottage late last month, Steve Bruce will only have the FA Cup final on his mind now. The Tigers will also have been buoyed by Everton’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City this past Saturday, as they now have guaranteed Thursday night Europa League football to look forward to next season.
Team News and Tactics
Ryan Giggs got a taste of what David Moyes was going through following an insipid performance by the Red Devils in their defeat against Sunderland this weekend. United looked like a team going through the motions despite the added incentive of closing the gap on sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who also lost earlier in the day. Giggs will know that whatever little chance he had of being appointed the full time manager is now gone and will now just look to finish the campaign on a high.
The Welshman has hinted that if the Manchester United hierarchy do not offer him a new contract next season then he will look to build his managerial career elsewhere. This scenario leads to the possibility of Giggs playing some part against Hull in what could be his last appearance at Old Trafford, but it would still be a surprise if he started this match.
Some other United stalwarts could also be playing their last game at The Theatre of Dreams. Nemanja Vidic, who departs to Internazionale next season should start this one but his partner in central defence could be Chris Smalling with Rio Ferdinand being allowed to recuperate following his exertions against Sunderland. It remains to be seen whether Ferdinand or Patrice Evra, who are both out of contract in the summer play some part in this match.
Giggs has tended to alternate his playing squad during his two matches in charge and this should lead to a midfield comprising of Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj starting the game. Though there have been reports emanating from the club that Wayne Rooney’s groin injury is not as severe as once feared, it is hard to see him being risked. In his absence Juan Mata will continue to play as the No.10 in support of Robin van Persie.
Expected Starting Xl (4-1-3-1-1): De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Cleverley; Valencia, Kagawa, Januzaj; Mata; Van Persie
With other results going their way this past week, Hull City have nothing to play for in their final two games against Manchester United and Everton. But Steve Bruce knows that he has never beaten Manchester United as a manager and that he will not get a better opportunity than this. The euphoria surrounding Ryan Giggs’ appointment as interim manager has now died down, and if he can frustrate his former club for the first quarter of an hour then a favourable result is not totally out of the equation.
Bruce did insist before the match against Aston Villa that he would want to finish high up the table as that would result in a bigger budget for the Tigers next season. But it remains to be seen whether the Hull players are motivated by this talk of extra money going into the club’s coffers when they know they have a chance to create history by winning the FA Cup.
James Chester will miss this game, and there are fears that he could potentially be out for the remainder of the season following a hamstring injury in the match against Villa. Bruce will probably adopt the 5-4-1 formation for this game with Ahmed Elmohamady and Liam Rosenior playing as wing backs. In midfield there could be starts for George Boyd and Robert Koren, with the duo supporting Shane Long.
Expected Starting Xl (5-4-1): Harper; Elmohamady, Bruce, Davies, Figueroa, Rosenior; Koren, Livermore, Huddlestone, Boyd; Long
- Hull City have beaten Manchester United only once at Old Trafford. This sole victory came in the 1951/52 FA Cup 3rd round.
- Since the beginning of last season Robin van Persie is the second highest goal scorer in the Premier League with 37 goals.
- For the first time in their history Hull City will compete in the Europa League next season.
Player to Watch
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
The United skipper will play his last home game for the club ahead of his summer move to Italy. The Serbian would like to sign off with a commanding defensive performance and perhaps a goal.
Manchester United 2-0 Hull City
Both teams have very little to play for, but United should be able to nick this one given the emotions involved as a lot of their senior players could be gracing Old Trafford for the last time.