Manchester United embark on their second away game in the space of four days on Saturday when they travel to West Bromwich Albion hoping to make it four wins on the bounce for the first time this season. The Reds, who are sixth, take on seventh place West Brom looking to extend their nine game unbeaten run in all competitions. Jose Mourinho’s men left it late on Wednesday to come away from Selhurst Park with all three points thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s strike 2 minutes from time.
The hosts have shot up the table in recent weeks thanks to some good form, the Baggies have lost just once in their last six outings and that was a 1-0 defeat to runaway leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend. Tony Pulis’ side won 3-1 against Swansea City midweek with Salomon Rondon scoring a hat-trick of headers in a 13 minute period in the second half.
The hosts have a trio of ex United players in their ranks as Ben Foster, Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher are all first team regulars for the Baggies. Let’s take a look at a few things that connects the two clubs.
The United legend came through the Baggies youth ranks as a youngster during the 70’s and made almost 250 appearances for the Midlands club scoring 47 goals in all process before joining the Reds in October 1981 for £1.5 million, which at the time was the British transfer record. Robson spent 13-years in the first team at Old Trafford and is still, to this day, United’s longest-serving club captain (1982-1994). ‘Captain Marvel’ made 461 appearances for the Reds and won everything domestically as well as the European Cup Winners’s Cup and the European Super Cup in 1991. After hanging up his boots he turned his head to management and following stints at Middlesbrough and Bradford City he took charge of the Baggies in 2004 however lasted just under two years. He is now a global ambassador for the Reds.
Scotsman Darren Fletcher signed for only the second club of his career last year when he swapped Old Trafford for the Hawthorns after spending over a decade in United’s first team. He pretty much won it all with the Reds including four league titles and the Champions League in 2008. Fletcher scored some big goals for United however departed the Theatre of Dreams in 2015 after making just 50 appearances in all competitions across three and a half seasons following a battle with bowel disease. He featured in every Premier League game last term for West Brom, putting his illness fully behind him and now captains the Baggies, he’ll receive a warm reception from the travelling United fans on Saturday.
Defender Jonny Evans is one of a trio of ex Reds who are first team regulars at the Hawthorns, along with the aforementioned Fletcher and goalkeeper Ben Foster. Evans, like Fletcher, came through the youth ranks at United as a youngster and broke into the first team during the 2008/09 season following loan spells at Belgian side Royal Antwerp and Sunderland. He won three league titles with the Reds and made just shy of 200 appearances in all competitions. He signed for the Baggies last summer and was even a target for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal earlier this year, if the rumours are to be believed.
Fergie’s last game
If there was ever a game to bring down the curtain of Sir Alex Ferguson’s glistening career, then the 5-5 against Saturday’s opponents on the final day of the 2012/13 season was it. The Scotsman had announced his retirement when United’s 20th top-flight title was secure earlier in the campaign and the final game of the season would be his last in charge of the Reds. It was also his 1500th game in charge of United, funny how football works sometimes, isn’t it!? The newly crowned champions raced into a 3-0 lead inside half an hour thanks to goals from Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Buttner as well as a Jonas Olsson own goal. James Morrison and Romelu Lukaku netted either side of the break to make it 3-2 but Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez restored United’s three goal lead. 5-2 and heading into the final ten minutes, West Brom scored three goals within five minutes to level the scores at 5-5! United won the league by a whopping 13 points that year, it was the first and only 5-5 draw since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, what a way to bow out!