Ahead of Saturday's tea-time game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, we caught up with United fan Darren from
theunitedpages.com. He gives us his views on United's season, Darren Fletcher, Louis Van Gaal, and more. You can also follow Darren and his site on Twitter @theunitedpages.

How is United’s season being viewed by the Old Trafford faithful?

Definitely very up and down! Pre-season we all got giddy because of the new players and the fact we'd actually signed a new midfielder, the first one for like 5 years. Then Swansea got us all depressed again by beating us on the opening day. Then we got all giddy again when we signed Di Maria and Falcao and some people even said we'd win the League. Leicester soon deflated that one though. Over Christmas we were a bit hit and miss even when we went on a great run. Then we got all giddy again with our wins over Liverpool and City and finally Everton ended that! I think most just wanted European football again. Us not being in the Champions League seemed very, very odd. We have to get back in that asap. It's vital.

How have recent performances been?

This is the best I've ever seen United in terms of possession football. We're learning to play a continental way which involves keeping the ball and probing for openings. You won't see the true fruition of this until we get a few better attacking options. I think everyone agrees that Fellaini, Young, Valencia etc simply aren't good enough to get us to where we want to be. Defensively we're a bit up and down but its our inability to score which has hurt us most this season. Take the recent Chelsea game, yes we lost but we absolutely bossed them and we're nowhere near the finished article.
What do United need to do to ensure a more successful season next time out?

We need to get some new players in! I bet every side says that though, even yourselves. Hopefully De Gea will stay. We need a centre half who is really comfortable on the ball. A central midfield player that gives you what Big Ron would call a bit of humpty dumpty in the middle of the park (get up and down and make tackles basically). We're absolutely desperate for a World Class striker, again though isn't everyone! One really good winger wouldn't go down too badly either.

Are the majority happy with Louis Van Gaal?

Yeh I'd say so. We understood that we needed a major investment after Sir Alex left and then David Moyes took us so far back that it only made a big job even bigger. What we like about Van Gaal is that he's been very honest with us all about the length of time it would take and the scale of the job. There was campaign in the press to unsettle him when he had a dodgy spell around West Ham away but it was only press talk. At Old Trafford we're right behind him. He's putting us on the main stage again and thats where we want to be. I know I'm biased but I think English football needs United to be strong. Instead of being backed by billionaires we've been robbed by them and yet still compete. We've had at least one youth team player in our first team squad for EVERY game since 1937. That's around 4,000 games now. Van Gaal understands United. Before he took over there was a great interview he gave to the press when they asked him what he knew about United and he laughed and said "I know they are the biggest club of the world". He romanced us, he still does.

Van Gaal recently stated that he expects United legend Ryan Giggs to become the club’s next manager. Would you go along with that?

Its a funny situation, one that we've covered on our site before and in-depth. Giggs is way beyond being the fans choice, he's simply on another level as far as we are concerned. The problem is the Glazers are scared of the power the class of 92 (Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, both Nevilles, Butt) have. Could you ever imagine a scenario where they tried to sack Giggs? There would be riots. For a long time before Sir Alex retired he was telling all his trusted journalists that Giggs would take over from him and then suddenly Moyes came in from nowhere. The feeling is that the Glazers simply blocked that one. For example, any WBA fans coming to Old Trafford should check out the brand new Hotel Football built across the road and co-owned by the class of 92. United fought long and hard to stop them building that, which should tell you everything about how the situation is between them. Will Giggs get the job after Van Gaal? If it was up to us then definitely but it's not so I'd say it's 50/50

Thoughts on Albion's captain and former United star Darren Fletcher?

Darren Fletcher - Great guy. What happened with his illness was a massive blow to a player who already overcame some bad injuries whilst a youth team player. When he first came through at United he was struggling a bit and some of Roy Keane's criticisms of him were part of the reason Keane was shown the door. As soon as that happened Fletcher really started to flourish. Around 2008/09 he was absolutely magnificent for us and the fact he had to miss the 2009 Champion's League Final due to a wrongly awarded red card was very cruel. Whilst he was out injured he would often go and sit amongst the fans both home and away. We were all desperate for him to come back and were all pleased when he won that battle. Sadly Illness robbed him of what he once was but we were pleased he got his move to West Brom, a good club and we all want him to do really well. We used to have this thing where we would sing "If Fletcher scores, we're on the pitch" so, should he score Saturday, there'll still be a few that will be tempted to join him in his celebrations! Ideal result would be a United win and Fletcher scoring for you guys.
Highlight of the season?

Easy that. Beating
Liverpool at Anfield. Nothing is ever sweeter for a United fan and I include hammering City in that. Still, next year might be their year.... It won't!

Moment you would rather forget?

Leicester. How can you be 3-1 up against a side struggling for survival and lose 5-3? MK Dons was awful too but as it was the League Cup its not considered too shocking. When we go down we really go down and that is a concern.
Player of the season?

Tough one that. There are a few players that have reached an 8/10 level I'd say but nobody on a 9/10. Rooney has had a good season but a lot of fans are still angry towards him for wanting to leave so nobody will vote for him. We still miss him more than anyone though when he doesn't play. Carrick has been superb in patches and again we miss him when he's not there. At a push I'd say De Gea. He's been the most consistent overall and earlier in the season he was making real wonder saves.

Villain of the season?

Another tough one this as I'm struggling to pick a stand out one. We've mostly been the architects of our own downfall this season. Every time I see that useless @&*% Moyes on the telly I still want to put my foot right through it. I still blame him for how bad we became and so our poor performances and the way he ruined certain players have carried over into this season. Yeh Moyes. I want to sack him again I do. Lead him out to a firing squad this time though, finish the job!

What team and tactics are we likely to see from United on Saturday?

No Rooney so I think Mata will play just off a striker rather than on the wing and Di Maria will come in on the wing instead. The feeling is we might just have been found out a bit with our tactics so Van Gaal might not start with Fellaini. Change it up a bit. We'll try very much to keep the ball and ask you a lot of questions. Probing rather than, as it used to be with us, quick counters. I expect Van Persie to start upfront too. Maybe Rojo to come back in at the back as well as he gives us a bit of oomph. Good player him.

Prediction for and thoughts on the game?

We have to win to cement our European place and your lot are safe so I'm hoping its a day out for you! United to bounce back after Everton and win 3-1. We hardly ever keep a clean sheet and pace on the break worries us but hopefully we'll have enough. Fletcher will get a great reception for sure, he's United through and through.


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