Norwich City-Manchester United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Manchester United begin life without David Moyes on Saturday when they welcome Norwich City to Old Trafford.

The decision to sack Moyes came Monday - just 10 months after he had been hand-picked by predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson - the club's greatest manager. The sacking ended a disastrous tenure that saw United drop from Premier League champions to seventh-placed also-rans in the space of one campaign.

United won just 27 of the 51 games played under Moyes, and this season has seen them rack up their least number of points in the Premier League era and produce their worst home record since 1978. In addition to failing to qualify for Champions League, they are still in danger of missing out on Europa League.

A 2-0 defeat to Moyes' old club Everton last weekend proved the final straw, and the remaining matches of the season will see Ryan Giggs take temporary charge of the side - accompanied by a host of his former teammates from the 'Class of 92' era.

"It will be massive for us, a proud moment for us all," said one of those assistants, Nicky Butt. "To be there together is a bit of a surreal thing. We walked in here together when we were 12 and to be here now - I'm not 40 yet but Giggsy is, and myself and (Paul) Scholes are nearly there too. So for us and Phil (Neville) to be there together is a very proud moment.

"We're here to try to help the club and get the results that we want from now until the end of the season. What happens after that, who knows? Saturday is a massive occasion, not only for Ryan, but for the staff, the fans and the players as well because they know that we've underachieved as a club this year."

Despite all the context surrounding Manchester United's build-up, the match may prove even more significant for visitors Norwich City (8-8-19).

The Canaries put up a brave fight last weekend against league leaders Liverpool, eventually succumbing to a 3-2 defeat, but losses to fellow relegation-battlers Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham in the previous three matches have left Norwich in a perilous position.

Just two points clear of the relegation zone and with at least two of the clubs below them showing signs of recovery, Norwich head to Old Trafford knowing this may be their most-winnable game remaining since matches against Chelsea and Arsenal also loom.

Interim manager Neil Adams spoke of the difficulty of facing United after such a tumultuous week for the Manchester club.

"We're playing a good team, with good players, that have probably not done as well as they would have liked this season, hence the news this week," said Adams, who replaced Chris Hughton as Norwich boss just a fortnight ago. "We'll be going there with a game plan and (thinking) how we can cause them a problem. The crowd will be up for it, that's for sure. We can imagine how it is going to be.

"Ryan Giggs has been a huge fans' favourite at Manchester United. He's one of the best players the club has ever had. Naturally there's going to be a reaction to that, but we're going to Old Trafford thinking of ways of how to hurt Manchester United. We'll be ready."

United have injury doubts over Patrice Evra (knee), Rafael (hamstring) and Robin van Persie (knee), while Norwich have concerns over the fitness of Joseph Yobo (calf) and Elliott Bennett (knee).

United edged to a 1-0 win when these teams met in December, with Danny Welbeck scoring the only goal. Norwich outshot United 15-7 in that match.

The Canaries were also beaten by United in the League Cup this season, with Javier Hernandez scoring twice in a 4-0 win.

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