Manchester United booked their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup after coming from behind to beat Preston 3-1 at Deepdale.
Much as it’s been customary over the last few months, United struggled to impose themselves on the game, hampered by ponderous football, but found a new lease of life when Louis Van Gaal switched to a 4-4-2 formation with an hour gone. It might not have been a vintage performance but now only Arsenal stand between United and a first FA Cup semifinal since 2011.
Here’s five talking points from last night.
Louis Van Gaal is determined to sign a creative midfielder in the summer and reiterated he’s chosen to deploy Wayne Rooney in midfield because of the need to ensure stability in the middle of park.
United spent £58m on Angel Di Maria and £29m on Ander Herrera last summer, but with the former struggling for form and the latter almost systematically ignored by Van Gaal, Rooney has found himself in midfield on a permanent basis since the turn of the year.
Manchester United moved up to third in the table after a largely unconvincing 3-1 win against Burnley last night. United were again slow and predictable in the first half and while things improved in the second 45 minutes, Burnley will feel disappointed they did not take the chances that United’s abysmal defence gifted them.
Here’s five things we’ve learnt from last night.
Louis Van Gaal has said that Wayne Rooney still has a future as a striker at Manchester United, despite having been deployed as central midfielder since the turn of the year.
After scoring eight goals and assisted four in the first 14 league games of the season, Rooney’s form has dropped since Van Gaal decided to deploy him deeper to accommodate Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao up-front.
North London, 28 April 2013. Manchester United travel to the Emirates having already clinched the title and they are welcomed onto the pitch by a guard of honour, while Sir Alex Ferguson prepares to face Arsene Wenger for the last time in his career.
In the away end’s concourse, travelling United fans have been bouncing long before kick-off.
Angel Di Maria has insisted he’s happy at Manchester United, but conceded that the typical Mancunian weather and the task of learning a new language are hurdles he is yet to overcome.
Since returning from a spell out on the sidelines, the Argentine has failed to recapture the fluency he had shown earlier this season, while rumours linking him with a move to PSG emerged after Di Maria’s house was burgled last week.
However, the former Real Madrid man insisted he’s happy at United.
Daley Blind has praised United’s away support after Louis Van Gaal’s men snatched an unlikely equaliser against West Ham on Sunday.
Despite United delivering another dull and boring performance, the away fans were in fine voice as usual and, thanks to Blind’s last-gasp equaliser, the trip back from East London was made more bearable.
Manchester United escaped East London with a point on Sunday, as Louis Van Gaal’s men delivered another mind-numbingly dull performance but were bailed out by a late Daley Blind’s goal. The result sees Unite drop to fourth and drag even further into what is shaping up to be as an incredibly tight race for top four.
Here’s five things we have learnt from United’s trip to Upton Park.