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.
Ashley Young has insisted that Angel Di Maria was a great signing for Manchester United and that he will show his real quality and become a star at Old Trafford.
Since joining United from Real Madrid for a club record fee in the summer, Di Maria has failed to reach the heights of his days at the Bernabeu and, after a promising start to the campaign, the Argentine has struggled for consistency.
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.
Louis Van Gaal has admitted that Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s best striker but that he’s forced to deploy him in midfield, because of the contribution the United captain offers in that particular role.
Van Gaal’s comments came a couple of days after he admitted that Rooney had failed to impress when deployed as defensive midfielder against Burnley.
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.
Paul Scholes has described Louis Van Gaal’s reaction to Sam Allardyce’s jibe as “bizarre”, adding that the reaction was not suited to a Manchester United manager.
Following United’s last minute equaliser against West Ham on Sunday, Allardyce slammed United as a “long ball” team, only for Van Gaal to produce a dossier in Tuesday’s press conference showing that Allardyce’s comments were baseless.
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.