1. Last night was a typical of example of the unpredictability we now face as United fans with our team that saw nine changes from the weekend easily brushing aside Norwich. We dominated the game from start to finish and played some really good football, particularly in the second half. Ferguson has said that this season will be considered a success for Moyes if he wins just one trophy so it was important we got a result last night. We also need as many games as possible to keep our fringe players happy and fit, and the League Cup is a great option for that.
2. Javier Hernandez took advantage of a rare start and scored his third goal in the last five games. I was nervous when he put the ball on the spot as Chicharito doesn’t fill me with confidence as a penalty taker, but he took it well, sending the keeper the wrong way. His second goal was fairly typical for him, being in the right place at the right time and able to outjump his opponent to get on to the end of a cross. His first header was saved, though this just set him up with an easy opportunity to head over the line, which he took full advantage of. It was also his header back across goal from a Rafael cross that set up Phil Jones for the third goal. Chicharito is a quality striker who just has a knack of scoring goals but it is understandable that Moyes prefers Van Persie and Rooney ahead of him. Still, if he’s given a starting role in the cup competitions and regular Premier League action from the bench, hopefully that will be enough to convince him it’s worth staying at United, rather than leaving for a club that would allow him to start week in week out.
3. Whilst it was Chicharito whose goals set us on our way, the performance of Adnan Januzaj was probably the most impressive, as the 18-year-old goes from strength to strength this season. He won the penalty after 20 minutes after being tripped in the box. It was a soft penalty but one which, though irritating for Norwich fans, deserved to be awarded. Januzaj was going nowhere on the byline but he was foolishly brought down. He’s a great player to watch though, always hungry for the ball, keen to take on defenders and willing to have a shot on goal once he’s created room for himself. Whilst not getting on the scoresheet, he came very close on a number of occasions after shooting from distance, and thrived in his preferred position behind the striker. For the league, he will have to be content with starting on the wing for now, but it was good to see Moyes give him a go up front.
4. I cannot understand why Fabio isn’t given a go in our team. He came to the club as the twin with more promise but after starting the Champions League final ahead of his brother in 2011, has just seemed to fall away. He’s had a load of injuries, but it seemed strange that the club were prepared to loan him out to QPR, where he struggled to have a huge impact. He played 90 minutes at right back against Crystal Palace and had a good game but last night’s ten minute cameo was only his second appearance of the season. He did well with a great ball forward from to beat his man and slide the ball past the keeper. Playing out of position on the left wing he probably did more than Ashley Young has all season. Fabio celebrated in front of the Stretford End for some time, raising his arms and bowing down to the fans. He took to Instagram after the game and posted a picture of his celebration with the caption “Thank you for the fans! This club changed my life and the life of my family.” How can you not love these boys??
5. Following on from that, I’ve found it particularly strange that Moyes and Ferguson both have felt Alexander Buttner is more deserving of a place in the team than Fabio. Whilst often looking good going forward, he looks poor defensively. Last night he put in a great shift though and it was his inch perfect ball in to Chicharito that saw us go 2-0 up. It was arguably his best performance for United since his impressive debut against Wigan last season, but without trying to sound too harsh, that is likely because Norwich posed little to no threat, allowing Buttner to keep getting forward.
6. Jones looked chuffed to get on the scoresheet and so he should after his great finish put us 3-0 up. He was being used as a central midfielder alongside Tom Cleverley and whilst he did a decent job, against a weak side, he still looks a lot more naturally suited to defence. His passing can be a bit suspect and I’m not sure whether he’s really the answer to our midfield problem.
7. Wilf Zaha got his first game of the season and whilst he looked dangerous going forward, he struggled to have much of an impact on the game. He’s got incredibly quick feet and is always keen to try out tricks, which is good to see, but he quite often lost the ball just as he was approaching the box. Still, I’d have him in the team ahead of Young. The more experienced winger had a decent enough game last night but at his stage in his career, you’d be right to expect far more from him. He got a few crosses in but most of them were far too deep for anyone to get on the end of.
8. Eleven minutes of injury time were played after a clash of heads left a Norwich player down in our box. After a few minutes of waiting, the players started kicking balls about so they wouldn’t stiffen up. This prompted the Stretford End to go through the players asking for some recognition. “Chico, give us a wave!” it started. The Mexican waved, as did Januzaj when it was his turn, Rio, Young etc. Even Rooney from the bench. The linesman didn’t comply though, resulting in playful boos and “you scouse bastard”. When the player was finally stretchered off, most of Old Trafford rose to their feet to applaud him off. Then it was announced who the player was. Robert Snodgrass, who’d signed for Norwich from Leeds, and who’d prompted us to sing “we all hate Leeds scum” when he went to take a corner. It would be unfair to say that everyone sat down when they realised it was him, but some were less sympathetic, put it that way! “Stand up for the champions” was started, from those maybe a little embarrassed to have been giving a standing ovation to what they’d define as Leeds scum. Snodgrass was taken to hospital and was released today after being treated for concussion.
9. All in all, a very satisfying night for United, with Norwich approaching the game with the fear we had become accustomed to from visiting teams, which we’ve rarely been afforded this season. Still, it was pleasing to see the players take advantage of the chances they created, after struggling with that too often this season. The draw for the next round is tonight.