Ali Al Habsi believes a big performance from the likes of James McCarthy at Old Trafford this weekend is a must if Latics are to make history and pick up their first ever result at the home of Manchester United.
Al Habsi was in action against his team-mate when Oman took on Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night in a 4-1 defeat for Paul Le Guen’s side.
Speaking to Latics Player, the 30-year-old spoke of the influence McCarthy and his midfield partner James McArthur have on the team at present and the bright future that undoubtedly lies ahead:
“James has impressed everyone ever since he arrived at the Club, he’s still such a young player but the performances he’s producing lately show the development he’s been through and he’ll only get better.
“It’s great to see the partnership he and James McArthur have formed in the middle of the pitch which gives us such a physical presence in an important area – they’re a very important part of the team.
“Hopefully they’ll both continue to improve and perform as they have done so far, starting this weekend at Old Trafford.
“In fact all eleven players on the pitch are going to have to produce a performance like never before if we’re going to create history and get a result.
“But we showed last season that we can match Manchester United, when we defeated them at the DW Stadium, and now we have to carry on our strong performances from the start of this campaign and go there with confidence.
“The mental challenge is huge; whenever you play there whether it’s for the first time or the tenth time you’re always excited to step out into such an amazing stadium.
“But you have to enjoy it and try to play as normal as possible, and if we can overcome that challenge I don’t see any reason why we can’t come away with a result.”
It will be the fourth time Al Habsi steps out at Old Trafford, his third for Latics having once played there for Bolton Wanderers, admitting that there was a time in his career when he thought such an opportunity wouldn’t come:
“When I was 17 years old I went to Old Trafford with John Burridge who got me a trial with Manchester United who invited us to a game.
“It was a dream for me just to visit the place and at the time John told me he would get me onto that pitch. I didn’t believe him at the time but I worked hard, kept believing and finally the dream came true, this will be my fourth appearance there.”
To see the interview in full and find out why the international break was a special one for Ali [click here]