On a weekend when the “magic of the FA Cup” was alive and well, Manchester United did their best to ensure the underdogs had their 90 minutes of fame as they stumbled to a rather embarrassing 0-0 draw at Cambridge. United have, of course, suffered cup humiliations against lower sides before, but the abject performance on Friday night was a new low in a season that continues to deliver much less than what it had promised.
Here’s five things we’ve learnt from Friday night.
Denis Irwin has said he believes Louis Van Gaal could steer United to Wembley this season and end an 11-year drought in the FA Cup, but added United won’t hit top gear until next season.
United have not won English football’s oldest trophy since defeating Millwall 3-0 in Cardiff in 2004, before tasting defeat 12 months later against Arsenal and in 2007 against Chelsea, but Irwin insisted the current squad has all the required credentials to go all the way in the competition.
Daley Blind has urged United fans to keep the fans with Louis Van Gaal, insisting the Dutchman will get things right at the club and ensure United will challenge for trophies again.
The former Ajax man drew comparison with Holland’s performance at the World Cup, where Van Gaal steered a largely unfancied team to the semifinal and, ultimately, to third place after defeating Brazil in the third spot playoff.
Wilfried Zaha has admitted he remains unsure about his future, claiming that he’d be open to a permanent return to Crystal Palace as doubts remain over his chances of making the cut at United.
Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in January 2013 after impressing with Palace, Zaha was left on loan with the South London outfit for the remainder of the season, helping them to promotion before arriving at Old Trafford at the beginning of last season.
Manchester United have denied making a bid for Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi, despite rumours suggesting the Argentinian had been identified as the man to bolster United’s defence this season.
On Monday, Valencia claimed they had received a £27m offer for the defender but refused to specify which club was behind the bid, sparking speculations it was United, as Louis Van Gaal looks to bolster his defensive options.
Radamel Falcao has insisted his injury problems are a thing of the past and that he’s fit and raring to go for United, adding that he remains confident goals will soon start flowing.
The Colombian failed to score against QPR on Saturday after twice being brilliantly denied by Robert Green but, despite not finding the net, he looked sharp and much more at ease than he had done at any other stage this season.
Louis Van Gaal has said that he won’t listen to the fans’ opinions when it comes to picking his team, for it’d be impossible to take into account the views of 600m supporters.
United fans chanted “four-four-two” early in the second half against QPR on Saturday, as they made clear they wanted to see United reverting to a more traditional system, having badly struggled with a 3-5-2 formation in the first half. However, Van Gaal said that despite the improved performance in the second half, he will not cave in to fans’ pressure and will continue to choose the system he deems more suited to the occasion.
Manchester United put last week’s defeat against Southampton behind them with a 2-0 win at QPR but things were far from being as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. United toiled in the first half and would have probably been behind had it not been for a couple of superb saves from David De Gea, though they looked a complete different side in the second half and managed to clinch their third away win of the season.
Here’s five things we have learnt from Saturday.