- Still in the FA Cup (just)
- Out of Europe
- Fans’ Chants (again)
After what was a terrible week regarding results for United, especially the 2-0 defeat at L’pool in the Europa League, we had two more important and difficult matches to look ‘forward’ to this week, both being in cup competitions.
Both were at home, the first one to West Ham for a place in the FA Cup semi-finals. Not many were hopeful that United would get something out of this game, and social media was full of doom and gloom on the morning of the game as most United fans had already decided that United would be easily knocked out by an in-form side.
With Fellaini starting once again ahead of more intelligent players, it seemed like this would be a hard task for United, and West Ham took control of the game in the first half as their play was a lot quicker and more incisive. Thankfully the good chances they created went begging, and De Gea was once again up to the job to make sure the game was still goalless at half-time.
The second half was more of the same as every time United tried to counter-attack, everything was slowed down as soon as the ball came to Fellaini, who unfortunately had one of his worst games since joining the club. The referee wasn’t helping matters either as the bulk of the decisions were going West Ham’s way. When Payet seemed to dive in United’s penalty area but was not shown a second yellow card that would have meant him having an early bath, things seemed to be really going against United, and to rub salt into the wound it was Payet himself who stepped up to take a magnificent free-kick and put the Hammers ahead a few minutes later.
For once, Van Gaal made a substitution that gave instant dividends as Fellaini was taken off with fifteen minutes to go to loud cheers from those at Old Trafford. His replacement, Bastian Schweinsteiger made an immediate impact as all of a sudden United’s play became much more fluid and attacking. Even if the German himself is slow too, his reading of the game meant that United started creating and equalised through Anthony Martial with less than ten minutes left. Schweinsteiger himself impeded West Ham’s keeper from possibly making a save, but gladly the referee at least let that one go in our favour.
Though not exactly happy with this result, the 1-1 draw meant that at least United will get another bite of the cherry though a visit to Upton Park is never easy. Considering many thought United would lose this one, a draw is not be sneered at (oh how we have fallen). It also showed that though Schweinsteiger is past his best, he’s still more than good enough to do a job at United, and he brings a leadership onto the pitch that most of us have been craving for years.
On Thursday United hosted L’pool in a match where they needed to win by three goals to go through to the next round of the Europa League. United had a very good first half, which was the least we expected after the players hardly turned up for the first leg, and even with Fellaini starting they were the better side. When Martial scored to put United ahead after half an hour, fans started thinking that this might be a European night to remember after all.
Unfortunately it didn’t last as Coutinho equalised just before half-time, and United went back into their shells in the second half. The substitutions made by Louis van Gaal didn’t help the team’s cause as he replaced the two full-backs by Valencia and Darmian when United needed three goals to go through. That played into L’pool’s hands as they just stood their ground while the United players passed the ball in front of them. In the end it turned out to be another disappointing and frustrating night for us fans, though listening to our manager we were happy with how the United players gave their all. If that was the maximum they could give, it’s going to be a hell of a miserable couple of months before the season ends.
We criticised the United away fans for their vile ‘songs’ last week, and the L’pool fans at Old Trafford were even worse as they were throwing seats to complement their disgusting chants. If these ‘people’ find the need to do such things when they’re watching a game of football, I dread to think how terrible and rubbish their lives might be, if they do have lives.
On Friday morning, both clubs were charged over their fans’ behaviour before, during and after the game.
In the other quarter-finals of the FA cup, Pardew’s Palace won 2-0 at Reading; Everton beat Chelsea 2-0 as well; and holders Arsenal lost their first FA Cup tie in about 26 years when they lost 2-1 at home to Watford.
Meanwhile in the Premier League, Manchester City could only muster a 0-0 draw at Norwich; Leicester kept their nice cushion at the top as they beat Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle 1-0; Tottenham stayed on their coat-tails by winning 2-0 at Championship side Aston Villa; Southampton won 2-1 at Stoke; and Bournemouth took a massive step towards safety by beating Swansea 3-2.
In the Champions League, Arsenal lost 5-1 on aggregate against Barcelona to get knocked out of the last sixteen of the competition for the sixth season in a row, while City made it through to the quarter finals for the very first time in their history.
The good news now is that United only play one game in the next seven days, so there’ll be less chance of ruining many peoples’ week. The bad news is that it’s the Manchester derby as United travel to the Etihad on Sunday (4pm UK time), so the whole week could be ruined in one fell swoop. Whatever happens though, and as always… COME ON UNITED!!!