Manchester United’s dismal campaign at Old Trafford will come to an end against Hull City on Tuesday in what could be a most ill-fitting way for several club stalwarts and possibly the club’s most decorated ever player to bow out.
Ryan Giggs will lead United out as interim manager for the third time and the 40-year-old could well also make his final competitive appearance at a stadium which he has graced since making his debut aged 17. Louis van Gaal is widely expected to be appointed as the permanent successor to David Moyes in the coming days with Giggs’ future both on and off the pitch uncertain.
Although Giggs has even hinted that he could take a managerial role elsewhere, latest reports suggest that Van Gaal is minded to offer the Welshman the post of assistant manager. It is something that Giggs would likely accept, however it would be hard to foresee him undertaking such a senior coaching role while carrying on in a playing capacity. Ahead of the visit with Hull, Giggs explained that, while focused on winning the game, the fact that it could be his final chance to play at the Theatre of Dreams could influence whether he names himself in the playing squad for the first time since assuming managerial responsibilities.
“I’ll have to take that into consideration but I also want to win the game as manager as well,” he said, according to Manchester United’s official website. “I want to do what’s best to win the game and not just make room for me in the starting line-up or on the bench, which I won’t do.
“Of course, the perfect scenario is me coming on and scoring a goal, the winning goal, and hopefully everyone will be happy but it doesn’t always work like that. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on the night.”
Tuesday night will definitely see the final appearance at Old Trafford for Nemanja Vidic. The Serbian has already agreed to move to Internazionale when his contract expires in the summer after eight glory-filled seasons at the club. It could also prove the final home outing for the player he signed alongside in January 2006, Patrice Evra, as well as the man with whom he formed Europe’s best central defensive partnership en route to winning the Champions League in 2008, Rio Ferdinand. Both players’ contracts are up in the summer with their futures likely to be decided by the incoming manager.
All will be hoping to give the fans something to cheer after a disastrous campaign. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Sunderland meant the Manchester club losing seven home games for the first time since the 1973-74 season when they were relegated. A victory against Hull will also keep their faint chances alive of overhauling Tottenham for the final Europa League place. To do so United will also have to win at Southampton on the final day and hope Tottenham lose at home to Aston Villa.
Hull’s spot in Europe is already guaranteed having reached the FA Cup final and their opponents Arsenal already being guaranteed a spot in the Champions League. That achievement represents a large bonus to a fine season that has seen Steve Bruce’s side already secure their main objective of staying in the Premier League. Former Manchester United captain Bruce expressed relief that they can go into their final two games of the campaign knowing that they will be in England’s top flight for a second successive season.
“I had a look a few weeks back and thought what difficult games we had to finish the season with Manchester United and then Everton,” he said, according to Hull City’s official website.
“They were never going to be easy, but they’re big games to look forward to and we can now go and have a freedom about us. Whenever you go to Old Trafford, it’s a place that you want to play at. There’ll be 75,000 there and it’s a wonderful place to go and play. Let’s go and enjoy it.”
Manchester United: Wayne Rooney is again likely to miss out as he continues to struggle with a slight groin injury. Jonny Evans is set to sit out the remainder of the campaign, although Rafael could be involved.
Hull City: Bruce has revealed that he is likely to make several changes to the side and give some of his fringe players a run out. Hull will definitely be without James Chester and Sone Aluko.
G: De Gea
D: Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
M: Cleverley, Carrick
Valencia, Mata, Januzaj
F: Van Persie
D: Bruce, Davies, Figueroa
M: Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Koren, Rosenior
F: Fryatt, Sagbo
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League encounter will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.