Trip to Wembley could change United’s season

Sunderland-v-Manchester-United-2999112Describing a game against Sunderland on a Wednesday night in January as a last chance saloon for Manchester United would have raised a few eyebrows in years go by.

David Moyes and his team might not be at that stage yet, but tonight’s second leg of the Capital One Cup semifinal is as big a test as any the former Everton manager has faced since replacing Sir Alex Ferguson in the Manchester United dugout last July.

Four defeats in the last five games are a damning statement of United’s current situation, last Sunday’s debacle against Chelsea doing nothing to dismiss the notion that United are merely a mid-table side attempting to punch above their weight – and failing miserably in the process.

Putting the Mata rumours aside for a second – the Spaniard might not fit the system, but have Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini ever done so? – United have the chance to reach a cup final which, in theory at least, should be enough to have fans salivating with anticipation.

Except that it isn’t, for many Reds would rather avoid winning tonight than being beaten by City in the final.

“They’re too strong” these people lament, speaking of Manuel Pellegrini’s free scoring armada, gleefully ignoring that United didn’t turn down Champions League finals against Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 because the Catalans “looked too strong”.

With Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie still out, the onus to provide the goals required to book a ticket to Wembley is likely to fall upon Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.

The Mexican netted yet again against Chelsea, while Welbeck must start scoring in these sort of games to prove that his development this season isn’t a mere flash in the pan and there’s no reason to doubt Danny, the only United player alongside Adnan Januzaj to look lively on Sunday.

The Belgian is again likely to be involved from the start and David Moyes will again place a lot of expectations on the youngster’s shoulders as United seek to reach a fourth League Cup final in eight years – incidentally, in the three previous occasions, United had always entered the second leg trailing.

The rest of the team virtually pick itself, with Chris Smalling lightly to replace the suspended Nemanja Vidic in the middle of the back four, while Rafael and Patrice Evra will take their usual spots at full-back and one between Tom Cleverley and Darren Flecther is expected to partner Michael Carrick in midfield.

More than anything else, though, United will need their fans. The away end that was so impressive at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will have to be just as loud, if the Reds are to overcome Sunderland.

Until 12 months ago it would have seemed an easy task, today is anything but.

However, United can still do it. After all, she wore a scarlet ribbon….




  1. Tonights game will be so interesting.

    If we can overturn the deficit and go through it would be a job well done.

    With Rooney and RVP available it would be pretty much guaranteed.

    But thanks to Moyes’ dodgy training practices injury abounds. So I don’t feel sorry for him being without his top players.

    It really is 50/50 tonight. But looking at how we came out the traps charging against Chelsea we might get an early goal which could really turn the game around.

    If Sunderland are bold and they come out and attack goals are get-able.

    If Sunderland score first though I doubt that Moyes or the players he influences on a daily basis have enough mental energy to overcome such a blow.

    • @The_Philosopher: You’ll have to excuse me for occasionally playing devil’s advocate in the interests of debate, but what evidence do you have for Moyes’ “dodgy training practices”? Rooney himself said that the training was great and he was really enjoying it, or words to that effect. Ok he’s been injured now but was that down to the training? Van Persie has been out of course for a prolonged period but that’s nothing new in his career which has been blighted by injury throughout. Are Wenger’s training methods also “dodgy”? Finally did we never have an injury crisis when Fergie was around? I can remember a time when Carrick was forced to play CB and we got thumped by Fulham. There were other periods when we struggled to field a decent side due to injury.

      As for tonight, I’m optimistic that we’ll go all the way. It will take a miracle at Wembley but you never know! If we can pull it off it will be a wonderful boost for Moyes and the team in what has been a troubled transition so far. Wishful thinking perhaps – more hope than expectation perhaps – but that’s what supporting United through thick and thin has meant at times over the many years I have been following this great club.

      • @Julian: Yeah well my optimism is a little different to yours.

        I hope we lose tonight because I don’t want to hope or dream of a future with David Moyes in it.

        Defeat is the only success for me tonight.

        Moyes needs to go.

        And Moyes needs to go yesterday!

        With regard to the training Rooney also said that Moyes’ training involved more running. He said the running is harder and more intense or words to that effect.

        Moyes himself admitted to “over training” Robin van Persie in pre-season.

        By the sounds of things Moyes believes in a labor intensive programme.

        It seems to me that Moyes thinks that if he cracks the whip louder than any manager in the league he should be able to beat any team in the league.

        Forget intelligent technique and thoughtful planning. Just make them run harder. That should fetch you all the success you want.

        I went to this resturant once where the chef over there didn’t really to know how to cook very good.

        So do you know what he did to compensate for his lack of skill?

        He put sugar in almost all his dishes to make them more palatable.

        Moyes is the same in my eyes. Hasn’t got a clue beyond the basics.

        So to make up for his lack of technical know how he cracks a mighty vicious whip.

        • @The_Philosopher: Disliking Moyes, his style of play, his training regimes and whatever else people seem to loathe about him is all good and well, even though I personally don’t share the opinion. However, wanting United to lose when we’re 90 minutes away from a Cup final is madness.

  2. @Dan

    Thats my point exactly Dan.

    To miss out on a such a momentus occasion can only put heavy pressure on Moyes.

    It’s not madness

    Loosing to City in the final is forgivable.

    Going out at the hands of Sunderland 90min away from the final is a lot less forgivable.

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