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An Opposing View: Manchester United vs West Ham

The Busby Babe answers some questions ahead of tomorrow's game

West Ham United v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Make or break is a phrase being used to describe every game we play at the moment but unfortunately we're at that stage. Every game could be the start of our phoenix-like resurrection or yet another sign we could be in serious trouble.

Our next make or break fixture is Jose Mourinho's Manchester United away, a horrendous side to face in a potentially vital game. You could argue that any points gained at Old Trafford would be a bonus but we NEED the points.

I caught up with Andi Thomas from The Busby Babe to get some of his opinions ahead of tomorrow's clash.

What exactly has happened to Man United in recent years?

The short answer is 'Alex Ferguson retired'. The longer answer is 'Alex Ferguson retired ... and it quickly became clear that he was the presence making United what they were'. There's books to be written about this, but the crude version is the Glazers took advantage of Ferguson's brilliance to keep the titles coming in while the profits flowed out, but it became clear once he left that much of the club wasn't functional without him. What was needed immediately afterwards was the simultaneous appointment of a top-class manager along with an overhaul of the club's structure and much of the squad; instead they gave David Moyes the job and hoped that 'being Scottish' would offer continuity. It didn't. Then they gave Louis van Gaal the job and hoped that 'being a belligerent egoist' would offer continuity. It didn't.

What was your opinion Mourinho and his hiring? Has it changed since the beginning of the season?

As a person, I think he's a bit (or maybe a lot) of a berk. But he was the obvious man for the job, not least because he, unlike the been-everywhere-won-everything Louis van Gaal has a serious point to prove. It's important to remember that he hasn't come into the job because he's the best and United are the best: he was available because he'd had a terrible season at Chelsea, and United were looking for a manager because they'd had three weird-to-mediocre seasons under Moyes and Van Gaal. So my position at the beginning of the season was that it was the right appointment bu also that it would take a bit of time for things to start improving, and I'm standing by that. Conveniently for me.

Where do you see Man United finishing this season?

At best third; at worst fifth or sixth. I don't think there'll be a huge points difference between those positions, but obviously one is UNITED ARE BACK IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE! and the other is UNITED ARE OUT OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, AGAIN! The first amounts to job done for Mourinho and the club; the latter would be very awkward. Think we'll do quite well in one or two of the cups, though. Mourinho likes cups, and the Europa League does offer a back door to the Gazprom Invitational.

If you could only win one of the upcoming matches and lose the other, which would it be?

The league game. I think winning the League Cup could actually be very useful for United: Mourinho's talked before about how winning the thing with Chelsea the first time around helped to motivate his team, give them the "taste of champagne". But United have dropped too many points at Old Trafford already this season.

What's your opinion on Zlatan? Does he deserve a new contract? Does he deserve to start over Rashford?

He's definitely a useful player to have around and I don't mind him staying for another year beyond this one: he's in excellent shape, he's apparently worshipped by the younger squad members, and while he's missed a few chances, he is United's top scorer. Whether he should be automatic first choice is a trickier question. Rashford wasn't individually brilliant against Arsenal, and generally looks in need of a rest, but he did mean that United were quicker all over the pitch, which helped the overall performance. Mourinho trusts Ibrahimovic, however, so he's going to play.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was, in my opinion, the most exciting signing you made during the summer. What's happened?

Nobody really knows, and nobody can quite rule out the possibility that Mourinho is just being weird and miserable. Assuming he isn't - assuming he's got his reasons - then my highly speculative guess is that Mourinho was worried about the psychological impact of Mkhitaryan's appalling 45 minutes and early substitution against Manchester City, and wanted to wait for some friendly opposition and for the rest of the team to approach something like functionality before he threw him back in. To be honest, though, I lean towards the 'miserable and weird' option. Anyway, he was brilliant against Feyenoord, so maybe we can call it a Mourinho masterstroke. Maybe.

What would your combined Man United/West Ham XI be?

Some kind of strikerless mishmash. De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Reid, Cresswell; Herrera, Pogba, Payet; Antonio, Mkhitaryan, Mata. With Michael Carrick to come on late and represent both.

Finally, what's your prediction for the game?

3-1 United. Unless West Ham score first, in which case 1-1.

Big thank you to Andi from our Man United sister-site The Busby Babe for taking the time to answer some questions. We did the same thing on their site so make sure to check it out and see what they're interested in ahead of tomorrow's major match!