Another cup win. This time under bizarre conditions. Nobody fancies a cup quarter-final at the Britannia on a windy Wednesday night. Glad they got through it, all the more in convincing fashion. The score ended 0-2 to United with Darren Fletcher coming off the bench again much to the delight of the away fans who were raucous throughout.
Looking at the season so far, Manchester United are in the knockout stages in the Champions League where they have been at their best and look like they might progress further, they are in the semi-final of the league cup. Only Gus Poyet’s Sunderland stands in the way between Manchester United and Wembley. Au contraire, United sit 8th in the league with 25 points from 16 games that includes 5 defeats. (3 at home). Does it say something?
The first half looked like a repeat of the way they played the same against Shaktar at home in their last group stage encounter in the Champions League. Ridiculous amounts of possession inside their own half and were going nowhere with the ball. David Moyes, who looks to have settled now did not panic, I suppose. And I wonder what his team talk was. Whatever it was, it certainly altered the way Ashley Young played. Ashley Young had a game of two very different halves, scored a blinder plus set up the other, living up to the #18 shirt he’s wearing and United never looked back.
Roll back to the early weeks of December. United were not that bad against Everton in that first half, for the record. Rooney made Howard work, drew a couple of good saves off him. In the second half, they were good in parts but then a mix up towards the end, conceded 3 points. The game against Newcastle United that followed was total misery. Much poorer performance and United endured the same 0-1 loss conceding 3 vital points again.
Roll back further. United played their league cup quarter-final opponent Stoke at home, back in October. They somehow edged it 3-2, courtesy a trademark winner from Chicharito. United had to pull off one of their traditional comebacks not once, but twice in the game to beat Mark Hughes’ side. Let me rephrase it. United were down twice against Stoke City at home! Not to forget, Stoke could have scored more that day and put that game to bed. It was the goalkeeper that kept United in the game in the first half with two stunning saves from point-blank range. Though United ran away with all 3 points, it was a performance to forget. The reason I brought that game up is, Manchester United outplayed the same opponent away from home under difficult conditions, yesterday. 3 points, eh? Blimey, it’s not the league!
As a Manchester United supporter myself and not having experienced this before, I love United playing the way a cup team does, at the moment. But it is absolutely necessary we put in a string of wins now in the league. The champions have won 3 games in a row now, in 3 different competitions with 3 clean sheets. The fans got to see unlikely names in Welbeck, Cleverley and Young get themselves on the score-sheet. Rosy, ain’t it? But nothing, absolutely nothing beats a better position in the league by the turn of new year.