If you are a United fan coming here to read my post-match thoughts to cheer yourself up a bit, then I suggest you fuck off now. If you want to share in the pure rage, stick around.
Before the match, I said these games, cup ties against your biggest rivals, are ones you wait years or lifetimes for. Sadly, nobody seemed to let the players know that. With Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson all on the park, lads who have all lived in Manchester for years, there is no excuse for such a limp performance.
For once, after getting knocked out of the cup by minnows, something that has happened several times in Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, I am not looking to the team selection for blame. The manager played enough players not only to win the game, but to win the game comprehensively, against Third Division opposition. Every single starting player had started at least one Premiership game this season, so regardless of the inexperience in some sections of the park, there was enough there to get a result.
When selecting the team, Ferguson didn’t know that Danny Welbeck was going to lose the ball every time he received it, with a first touch as gentle as a rapist and gangly frame leaving him unable to sustain anything heavier than welterweight challenges. He spent the first half with the better of the full-backs behind him, Fabio, who actually had a fairly decent game. His delivery was suspect at time but at least he put a foot in, could out-muscle his opponent, and wanted to get forward.
On the opposite flank, Gary Neville was poor, as he has been pretty much every time he’s played this season. Maybe I’m being unkind, but I think “average” is probably the best rating he will have received this season. Whilst it was enjoyable drowning our the Leedscum jeers with cheers every time Neville went near the ball, that isn’t really justification enough to keep him wearing our jersey.
Gabriel Obertan showed off his pace but that was about all he had to offer today. It’s good for him to bomb down the left with Patrice Evra there to mop up any mistakes, but neither Neville or Fabio were going to offer the newbie much support. He was thrown to the lions a bit today but still managed to look better than Welbeck.
Darron Gibson and Anderson weren’t the greatest midfield pairing I’ve seen, but Anderson had a decent game whilst Gibson was pretty anonymous. There are worse things to be than anonymous but in a game against your hated rivals, where someone really needs to grab it by the balls, anonymity should not be rewarded with 90 minutes on the park. He had a good effort on goal towards the end, really caught it nicely, and a decent effort early on, but the midfield was generally by-passed, particularly after Anderson was subbed with 20 minutes to go.
Wayne Rooney was a busy fucker, here there and everywhere, getting stuck in, and that’s great. But his job is to score goals and when shooting opportunities came about he was poor. He had a couple of strikes on target, but they were straight at the keeper. When Antonio Valencia came on for Welbeck, we saw how the game might have looked if we’d had a decent winger on from the start. He tore away from his marker time and again and created the best chance of the game with 13 minutes to play, pulling the ball back to Rooney 8 yards out. My fucking nan could have done better with it, I swear. Not hitting the target from 8 yards out when you’re 1-0 down at home against your hated rivals in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup is not good enough. I love Wayne, I love him for being a busy fucker, but you cannot miss the fucking goal from 8 yards out. Unacceptable.
Although Michael Owen, who was thrown on to cement his place with the fans forever, after already scoring a late winner against City, was unable to recreate the magic against Leedscum. The ball came to him in the box and he missed it. Once the ball had gone, he went over to the vague area where the embarrassment occurred, stamping down the turf to imply a bobble. Fuck knows, but it looked shit.
So I suppose the question is, is it better to miss easy chances as those two did, or not really have any chances, like Berbatov? Like Gibson, he just didn’t really have a say in what was happening in the game. There was a couple of nice passes, but he was second to the ball too often and just generally wasn’t good enough.
It was good to see Jonny Evans back in the centre of defence and I didn’t notice any total ‘mares, but I could be wrong. At least we have another option now in defence, unless Evans has just replaced Vidic in the sick bay. Wes Brown, whose song we love to sing, who put in a few proper hard and crunching challenges, should have done better for the goal. Beckford is a tricky little beggar, and has probably added a few grand on to the transfer fee he’ll get this month, so why did Wes give him all that room? Kuszczak was his usual indecisive self, and then came out when it was too late, only to watch the ball slowly drift over the line. Honestly though, at that point, I couldn’t imagine we’d let the rest of the game pass us by without a goal.
They hit the bar from a freekick and Beckford had a great chance to make it 2-0, dragging the ball just wide of the post. It could have been three fucking nil.
Leeds brought the game to us, which should have been perfect, giving us the opportunity to counter and space to expose. They didn’t park the bus, like so many teams do at Old Trafford, yet we didn’t have enough to get behind them and take our chances.
There was a goal line scramble or two towards the end of the game, but it was all too little too late. Even with five minutes of injury time, it was hard to imagine us forcing a replay.
So there you have it, Leedscum knock United out of the FA Cup, and there’s no one to point the finger at other than the players wearing our shirt today. “The referee’s a wanker!” was one of the shouts at the final whistle, probably in reference to one of the penalty appeals we had, but the ref had fuck all to do with the result. We were just dreadful.
This gives the manager a headache ahead of Wednesday. Who on earth do we play? He probably wanted to field a similar side to today, especially now he has claimed we’re playing the kids, but how can he do that? If a side with so many first teamers in couldn’t get themselves up enough to beat a team in the Third Division, what hope do we have for them facing the bitters? Alarm bells should be ringing.
Or maybe the manager can just go on the rampage, drop Rooney, Berbatov, Welbeck, Gibson, Neville, Wes, Obertan, Owen and put it to them – do you want to play for this team? Then you’ve got to do a lot fucking better than that.
It’s not about the losing, it’s about the performance and the opposition. The players today have lost a connection with the fans to play the way they did. They needed to be fighters, warriors, and they just didn’t have it in them. So play the Reserves in the League Cup semi-final and see if they can fight for our club any harder than the superstars did today. And risk a second humiliation at the hands of our rivals in four days.
I’m at a loss for words.
But come on United!