Man United aim to end traumatic week with a smile
Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, pictured here on August 5, 2011, have been drafted in to help manage Manchester United until a replacement for David Moyes can be found - by Andrew Yates
Giggs, assisted by three fellow members of United's famed 'Class of 92', will be in temporary charge of the troubled giants when struggling Norwich visit Manchester for the first match following David Moyes' sacking.
After only 10 months in charge the beleaguered Scot was put out of his misery on Tuesday, with Old Trafford icon Giggs appointed until the end of the season with the intention of lifting flagging spirits in both the dressing room and the stands.
Giggs, a gloriously successful product of United's youth academy, symbolises all that was best about Alex Ferguson's reign and the Welsh midfielder has told his players to show more freedom and verve after the dour displays of the ultra-conservative Moyes.
The 40-year-old, assisted by old team-mates Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, is determined to restore some pride to the United shirt by recapturing the cavalier spirit of the Ferguson era, starting against Norwich, who desperately need the points in their battle to avoid relegation.
"It has been a difficult week for the club and it was a shock to me on Tuesday when I heard David was leaving and then I asked was to take over," Giggs said.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind week for me but one I've enjoyed. It has been different, chaotic.
"It's been a frustrating season for everyone so I want to bring back some smiles on the faces of the fans.
"I can't wait for the game, the players are excited too. I know the stadium will be bouncing."
At Anfield on Sunday, leaders Liverpool will wait with bated breath to see if Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho carries out his threat to field a weakened team as the Reds look to move a giant step closer to winning the title for the first time since 1990.
Brendan Rodgers' team are five points clear of second placed Chelsea with three games remaining and a victory over Mourinho's team would eliminate the Blues from the title race.
Although this is Chelsea's last chance to close the gap, Mourinho has apparently opted to prioritise the Champions League, where his injury and suspension ravaged side face Atletico Madrid in the semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
After a goalless draw in Madrid in midweek, the Blues boss believes European glory is more realistic than domestic success and, frustrated by the Premier League's refusal to move the game to Saturday, he has claimed he is likely to rest several players against Liverpool because he can't risk further injuries.
"You wait for Sunday and Sunday you know our team," Mourinho said.
"I have to defend my club. If we are not helped to try to follow our dreams and our objectives, it is one more reason for us to close ranks, to try to think about us and only about us."
If Mourinho sacrifices the league it will be major blow to third placed Manchester City, who trail the Reds by six points but have a game in hand and kick-off at Crystal Palace on Sunday just minutes after the Anfield clash finishes.
Whoever Chelsea send out will face a stern examination from a Liverpool in red-hot form after reeling off 11 successive league wins to leave their title rivals trailing in their wake.
Rodgers could be forgiven for feeling a little nervous with so much at stake, but the Reds boss insists there is no chance he will suffer any sleepless nights as the title race reaches a conclusion.
"There is no pressure with it. People say to me 'Are you not enjoying it? You must not sleep at night'. I haven't slept better!" Rodgers said.
"I'd be lying if I said I expected us to be top of the league. We want to win it and we are in a brilliant position, but the focus is only on Chelsea.
"That is a big game for us and we will hopefully get over that hurdle."
Fourth placed Arsenal host Newcastle on Monday looking to maintain the advantage in the battle to qualify for the Champions League, while fifth placed Everton, currently a point behind the Gunners, travel to Southampton on Saturday.
Fixtures (1400GMT unless stated):
Fulham v Hull, Manchester United v Norwich (1630GMT), Stoke v Tottenham, Southampton v Everton (1145GMT), Swansea v Aston Villa, West Brom v West Ham
Crystal Palace v Manchester City (1510GMT), Liverpool v Chelsea (1405GMT), Sunderland v Cardiff (1100GMT)
Arsenal v Newcastle (1900GMT)