Date: 17th September 2008 at 12:18pm
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We all remember Villarreal, don’t we? That ill-fated 2005/06 campaign’s first memory might be the disaster at Benfica but we can’t forget the Spanish team who advanced at first place from the group.

Is it a bad omen, starting once again with a game against the Yellow Submarine? Circumstances are slightly different though as that United team were a shambles while the current one are the European champions. Shall we, once again, find it impossible to break them down?

That’s the big question I think. Villarreal were cautious at home last time and they were downright negative at Old Trafford where they came for a 0-0 draw and duly got it. Circumstances are, once again, slightly different this time: on that occasion, a draw almost certainly ensured their progression and was therefore a most desirable result.

Whereas they could see it as an attractive prospect this time, too, they’d be mad not to try and cause a huge upset. United are off-colour at the moment, to be polite and Villarreal are one of the best attacking teams in Europe so concentrating on defending would be a huge mistake which I don’t think Manuel Pellegrini will commit. So expect a more open game than last time. After all, Villarreal have nothing to lose, even with a defeat here they should comfortably advance – as should we, I hasten to add.

And what I want to see from United? Well, a bit of drive, a clear purpose. We looked lost at Anfield, the players seemed to have no idea what they should do. It’s up to Fergie and the staff to explain it to them this time.