Manchester United did the bare minimum last night and eased through the final four of the League Cup. David Moyes' first major semifinal in charge at United will be against Sunderland in early 2014. The other contender for the Cup turns out to be our neighbours so you'd imagine that the likely final of the competition is likely to be a Manchester derby--much to the delight of the FA.
Game proper; The match had to be stopped for 10 minutes as hail and rain pelted the players in conditions that some might relish playing in (I mean Fellaini wouldn't feel the hail conditions in the same way Steven Ireland did on the night.) The weather though meant for a literally cold Wednesday night at Stoke but that did not stop the away fans from singing their hearts out. We really do have an amazing set of fans on the road.
Ashley Young did the unthinkable on the night by turning in a match performance. A piledriver of a goal and an assist for the second was definitely not in the script for most reds when they saw the team sheet ahead of the fixture. That said, it was only a token of what he owes his manager and indeed the club for putting up with his antics for all this while.
The most important aspect about the game for me was a clean sheet. Clean sheets have been at a premium this season and yet of the five games we've lost so far this season, four have been by the odd goal. When the attack has had an off-day, we've not really had the defence to bail us out. It's good to see that Evans and Jones are getting to grips with the task of replacing the ageing Rio-Vidic axis. That could be a bedrock on which we build our next great base.
The most important game this week however remains the one on Saturday. This result will not even come in the reckoning if the lads fail to pick all three points at the weekend. West Ham at home should be a fixture we traditionally win, but so were the last few games at home. Surprisingly, we've found much joy away from home than at home. You get the feeling that the players and indeed the manager are crumbling under the weight of expectation at Old Trafford and thriving on less pressure away from home. Wouldn't it be great if Old Trafford sung out their hearts for 94minutes in the same way the away fans did last night. Players do react to the mood and atmosphere of the fans. At the moment the nerves are killing it for us at home and you'd like to see the fans getting behind the players and sucking that ball into the Stretford End.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Labels: THE LEAGUE CUP