…and it’s still only January! When Sir Alex was in charge, we had ‘squeaky bum time’, but that was usually towards March and April, when the season was reaching its climax. It seems like we now have twitchy a*ses, and we better get used to it.
Friday saw United travel to Cambridge for what most of us thought would be a ‘walkover’, especially when the line-up was announced. Yet once again we were left feeling embarrassed as ‘world-class’ footballers weren’t up to the challenge, and put up another insipid performance that brought up more questions than answers to Van Gaal’s philoshophy.
After a mediocre first-half, in which Cambridge matched United, the second half wasn’t much better, though with the introduction of Van Persie and Herrera United upped the pace and even though things didn’t improve too much, enough chances were created to avoid a replay. Unfortunately the players didn’t seem to have their shooting boots on, and made sure that when the final whistle came, Cambridge were celebrating a ‘0-0 win’ that meant they could have their special day out at Old Trafford.
Now, I don’t like comparing because it’s obvious that a club like Cambridge is tiny compared to the stature of United, but this is a club that has only kept five clean sheets from twenty-six games in League Two this season, so it was not easy seeing a team full of stars not being able to score at least one goal. Of course United were out of sorts, but they had 16 shots, and it doesn’t matter what system or formation is being used if the players can’t convert a few of those chances, especially against a smaller side.
As we said, questions still need to be answered, like why isn’t Herrera starting, especially in a game where Mata wasn’t involved. United look much better and quicker with him in the team, so why leave him on the bench and only bring him on if/when needed? We wonder if the rumour that he likes the Manchester life a bit too much is true? It can’t be his performances that are keeping him out.
Another question that kept being asked during the game was why was Phil Jones taking corners? We’d understand it if he was good at it, and then could run back to cover while the ball is in the box, but he’s as bad as most of the others at clearing the first man, which isn’t good when you’re trying to put pressure on the opposition’s defenders.
The two players that seemed to come out with a bit of credit from this game were Rojo and Januzaj, who showed glimpses of what he can do. As for Falcao and Wilson (who I hoped would have an excellent game), they can hardly be blamed as they didn’t get the service they need, even when they were running into space.
Anyway, we were a bit down in the dumps after that game, and many ABUs were out in force having a laugh at our expense. Until their teams played a day later…
Best team in England Chelsea managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, when they let a 2-0 lead slip at home to Bradford, and lost 4-2; Manchester City’s players’ minds might still have been in Abu Dhabi as they lost 2-0 at home to Middlesboro; Tottenham lost 2-1 at home to Leicester; Flavour of the month Southampton lost 3-2 at home to Pardew’s Palace; and the ‘Get Gerrard to Wembley’ brigade could only muster a 0-0 draw at home to Bolton. So in the space of a few hours, United went from being a laughing stock to becoming favourites to win the FA Cup!
In other news, Newcastle have confirmed the appointment of Nick Carver as head-coach until the summer. We were sure this would happen as Mike Ashley is now putting more money into his new toy (Glasgow Rangers), he won’t want to spend too much in new contracts at Newcastle, will he?
The Asian Cup comes to an end this weekend when hosts Australia face South Korea in the final, a game which will be played at 9:00am UK time (6pm in Sydney); Meanwhile, the African Cup of Nations moves to the quarter-final stage, something Manchester City supporters might not be happy about as the Ivory Coast are through, so Yaya Toure and Bony will be away for a while longer.
Chelsea will be playing in the League Cup Final after beating the ‘Get Gerrard to Wembley’ brigade in extra-time at Stamford Bridge. They’ll be facing Tottenham on the 1st of March.
Back to United, Darren Fletcher has been told that he can leave the club for free. Though it will be sad to see him go, it’s good to see that he might get a chance to play a few more games to wind down his career.
Not a great, but a very important player for the club for a few years; In the FA cup, United were drawn away at Preston or Sheffield United (IF they beat Cambridge in next week’s replay), a game that will be played on Monday evening, 16th of February (thank you BBC for keeping the magic of the cup alive); The u/21s won their first game in five when they beat L’pool 2-1 with goals from Nick Powell and Paddy McNair in a match where Victor Valdes made his club debut and Anderson walked about while ‘earning’ his £60,000 in wages; and it’s been reported that the ‘retired’ Sir Alex Ferguson got £2m for eight months as the club’s global ambassador. We do love Sir Alex, but all that money for travelling the world? Mind you, Ed Woodward ‘earned’ £2.5m in his first year as executive vice-chairman, so maybe it’s par for the course. No wonder we the fans have to pay £44 for a replay against a League Two side!
We now look forward to United playing twice at Old Trafford, first against Leicester in the league (Saturday 3pm UK time), then on Tuesday evening against Cambridge to see who goes through to the next round of the cup (7:45pm UK time). Seeing as one club is bottom of the Premier League, and the other is 12th in ‘division four’, what can possibly go wrong? Watch this space… COME ON UNITED!!!