We’re the famous Man. United and we’re returning to Wem-be-ley. It doesn’t quite have the same ring as ‘going to Wembley’, but seeing as the moneymen don’t care and still choose to have the semi-finals played at Wembley, United will return to the capital next month to play in the final of the FA Cup.
This will happen because on Saturday United showed mettle and spirit (for a change) and came through a tough battle with Everton in the first of the FA Cup semi-finals.
There were a few moans about Carrick and Fellaini starting together in midfield, but once the game began United quickly found momentum and were by far the better side and were creating some very good chances. Not to say that Everton didn’t have any chances, the best of which fell to Lukaku and was cleared off the line by Captain Rooney’s massive head. The same Rooney was running things from midfield, and his range of passes was working very well in creating chances for his team-mates. With just over half an hour gone, Martial used his speed to get to the byline before pulling the ball back into the box, where Fellaini was waiting to turn it into the net from close range and put United ahead before half-time.
Everton got better in the second-half as United fell deeper, and with nearly an hour gone got the chance to equalise as they were awarded a dubious penalty after Fosu-Mensah seemed to have won the ball off Ross Barkley. It didn’t matter as David de Gea saved Lukaku’s spot-kick magnificently.
United should have had a penalty of their own when Jagielka handled a Fellaini shot in the box, but that went unpunished, and when ‘Mike’ Smalling deflected the ball behind De Gea with fifteen minutes to go to make it 1-1, it looked like it was all going pear-shaped for United.
When the game seemed to be heading to extra-time, Martial started one last attack and after exchanging passes with Fosu-Mensah gave the ball to Ander Herrera, who managed to poke it back to Martial and put him through to place the ball neatly into the bottom corner and United through to the FA Cup Final. Cue bedlam in the United section, especially as the players ran over to them to celebrate such a late, late winner. Even Van Gaal stood up when the ball hit the back of the net! When the final whistle went a few seconds later, the celebrations could really start as the thousands of United fans that had made their way to Wembley made their way home with non-stop singing (and drinking in many cases).
It was a joy to see this performance being compared to the United of old, even if they didn’t play well for most parts of the second half. At least they created a lot more chances than they had in most games this season, and managed to conjure up a winner in what we know as ‘Fergie time’.
Huge credit must go to Captain Rooney, David de Gea, Fellaini and Martial, who all had important parts to play in this victory. Others did well too, but those four were a cut above the rest on Saturday.
The other semi-final was played on Sunday afternoon. Not that many gave it too much notice as in their wisdom, the decision makers scheduled this game to be played at the same time as potential Premier League winners Leicester were playing Swansea in the league and many people decided to watch that game instead. Then they moan about devaluing the cup. Pffft. For the record, Crystal Palace beat Watford 2-1 to set up a final encounter with United on the 21st of May.
There were other games played in the league. Apart from Leicester strolling to a 4-0 win at home to ‘holiday-mode’ Swansea, Manchester City won by the same score line against Stoke; Tottenham could only draw 1-1 at home to West Brom; L’pool threw away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Newcastle; Southampton won 4-2 at relegated Aston Villa; Chelsea won 4-1 at Bournemouth; and Arsenal made sure they put up a fight to try and win their fourth place trophy by drawing 0-0 at Sunderland.
In other news, L’pool suspended Mamadou Sakho while he is being investigated by UEFA after a failed drugs test. It is thought that he tested positive for some kind of ‘fat burner’. Isn’t that what training does, especially at such a high level? The mind boggles.
While talking about L’pool, the Hillsborough disaster verdict came out and an inquest jury found that the 96 that died were unlawfully killed. While it’s great that at last the victims’ families have got the justice they’ve been looking for, it’s shameful that it’s taken twenty seven years for the truth to come out.
On a lighter note, this week marks the 26th anniversary from when the same L’pool last won the league, meaning they’ve now gone longer than United had when they won it in 1992.
Back to United news, stories are coming out that e-mails have been sent out to executive club members telling them that they’d have a better chance of getting FA Cup Final tickets if they renew their season tickets by Sunday. While you can see the club is running business as many probably would, it’s unfair that while normal season-ticket holders are offered a ‘limited-edition, exclusive scarf’ if they renew early, others who pay more for their seats are offered cup final tickets. It’s also not fair to put pressure on executive members by what seems to be like a ‘blackmail’ plot to make sure they part with their money by this weekend.
United’s next game is on Sunday, and it’s at home to Champions elect Leicester (2:05pm UK time). While we don’t want the Foxes to win the title at Old Trafford, if they do we can always sing ‘Drinkwater one, Gerrard nil’. Meanwhile… COME ON UNITED!!!