Football Managing Rule 101: How to beat United

Ask the FA to review the decision of making Mike Riley, who the press called a Manchester United fan, the referee.

Phil Jagielka fouled Danny Welbeck in the area as the last man and it should have been a penalty and a sending off. Riley waved play on, no penalty was given and Jagielka was allowed to stay on the pitch. The fact that Jagielka scored the decisive penalty added insult to injury!

When I saw our line-up today I thought we were going to get a leathering. Everton are a quality side and like Ferguson said before the game, they’re hungry for trophies.

With half an hour played and United on top I realised that Ferguson’s idea was spot on. He had counter-balanced Everton’s thirst for success with the desire our young players had to prove themselves.

Welbeck struggled out on the left and I’m not entirely sure what Ferguson was thinking to play a right-footed teenage striker on the left wing! He worked hard though and should have earned what would have been a winning penalty for United ten minutes from time.

It was brilliant to see Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic paired up again. Foster didn’t really have a save to make in two hours of football and that was down to their efficient defending. This bodes well for our crucial Premiership game on Wednesday.

Starting the da Silva boys was a risky strategy but it proved effective. Despite Fabio only having one first team appearance to his name and Rafael being out injured for months, they were strong defensively and added to our attack. The future is bright knowing we have these two to man our full-back positions.

Statistics will tell you that Riley doesn’t have a habit of giving United penalties and isn’t a United fan, but raising the question stopped the ref giving a stonewall penalty to us, which would certainly have guaranteed our place in the final.

Had it been our first team I would have been more reluctant to dwell on this crucial decision, whilst still aggrieved, but the fact that we had so many of our Reserves fighting for it out there and we were denied a goalscoring opportunity by the foul, then denied a penalty, makes the situation entirely frustrating.

Good on our boys for putting on a performance tonight. Clearly the priority for Ferguson, and for the fans, is the Premiership and Champions League. There’s no way Fergie will put out a team like that for Pompey or Arsenal in Europe. The decision to give up on the FA Cup will only be vindicated if we beat Portsmouth on Wednesday.

I’ll be supporting Everton in the final but we all know if they can’t beat a team largely made up of our Reserves in normal or extra time, they’ll be no match for Chelsea.