We had to wait until Monday evening for United to play Preston, all thanks to the BBC and their idea of ‘The magic of the FA Cup’. When the starting line-up was announced, it was proof that Louis van Gaal was taking this competition seriously as he was putting a strong side out at Deepdale.
Seeing as this is the only trophy that United can win this season, he might as well go all out for it, and thankfully he showed his intent as the formation seemed decent, with players in their proper positions. Then the game started, and as has been happening for the past few weeks, the players reverted to looking confused and not knowing what system they were playing. It all made for a poor first half, and though Preston gave it their all, thankfully their League One status showed as they couldn’t capitalise on United’s weaknesses.
Just after the second half started, things got worse as a shot from Preston’s Laird took a deflection, De Gea couldn’t make the save and the League One side went into the lead. After an hour, Falcao was replaced by Ashley Young, and that’s when United kicked into gear and got better. Just five minutes after coming on, Young was involved in the equaliser when he passed to Herrera, who put the ball past three Preston defenders (and Rooney) into the net. Less than ten minutes later, it was the turn of Valencia to put a good cross onto the bushy head of Fellaini, who scored from the rebound after his header was saved. From then onwards, there was only going to be one winner, and when the keeper fouled Rooney with three minutes to go, United’s captain converted from the penalty spot to make it 3-1 and put the cherry on top of the icing. Though that cherry seemed to choke a few ABUs as they took it upon themselves to have a go at Rooney for diving. Many insisted that United only won because Rooney cheated, ‘forgetting’ that United were already leading 2-1 with just three minutes to go. It didn’t even matter that the Preston manager said that it was a foul, though Rooney made the most of it, as that didn’t fit their reasoning.
Some even called radio phone-ins to show their disgust, and a whole day later they were still going at it. The BBC even got Tom Daley to rate footballing dives. Maybe he should have rated their commentators from the game as their level seems to have taken a massive dive lately!
Looking at United’s performance, although there’s much room for improvement, this was the first time this season that they came from behind to win, which is always a positive. Most of the players are good enough for the club, at least for where it stands right now. The new players like Rojo, Blind and Shaw are getting better and improving the club’s standing as the season wears on.
We’re not worried about Di Maria, as he’s already shown that he’s world class, and it’s a well known fact that many players coming from La Liga to the Premier League usually start off very well, but then subside as the season wears on due to fatigue and the pace of the league (Ozil, Cazorla, Negredo and De Michelis come to mind). If he stays, which we hope he will, he’ll only get better at United, and hopefully join the other legends that wore the number 7 shirt.
What about Falcao? That is worrying, as though we know he can be world class as well, he certainly hasn’t proved it yet. As hard as he works in every game, and that he does, he needs to be scoring more goals as that’s what he gets paid for, and that is what will decide if United buy him outright after this season. The way things are going, that £45m will be much better spent on a younger, fitter striker, especially if United do finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
In other games in the FA Cup, the ‘Get Gerrard to Wembley’ brigade won 2-1 at Pardew’s Palace to make it through to the quarter-finals, where they’ll be meeting Blackburn, who themselves beat Mark Hughes’ Stoke 4-1. Holders Arsenal won 2-0 at home to Middlesboro, and will now travel to Old Trafford to meet United in the next round, while West Brom trashed West Ham 4-0 and will meet neighbours Aston Villa for a place in the semi-finals. Villa who scored TWO goals to beat Leicester in their game had new manager Tim Sherwood watching from the stands.
Looking elsewhere, the Champions League made a comeback this week, where Chelsea travelled to France to play the French Champions Paris Saint Germain. Unfortunately the headlines were not made by the game, but by some Chelsea supporters taking their moronic attitude to a higher level by being racist and actually singing about it. I’m sure there’ll be some saying that they’re not that type of fans, and pretending that they only use football as cover. Pathetic.
Staying with the Champions League, Romanian anti-corruption police are investigating a game between Dinamo Bucharest and Italian club Lazio that was played in 2007, where Lazio came from behind to win 3-1 in the second leg, after the first leg had finished 1-1.
Back to United news, Angel Di Maria got injured in training on Tuesday, and though it’s not clear how long he might be out for, he’s a doubt for United’s game at Swansea this weekend, while Phil Jones and Robin van Persie could both return; Meanwhile, the u/21s drew 0-0 against Everton, and though they might see it as disappointing, a point was enough to see them go top of the table.
We now only have to wait till Saturday to see United play again, this time at Swansea (3pm UK time). Hopefully they will be good enough to stop Swansea from making the double on us, and we’ll still be in third place after this weekend… COME ON UNITED!!!