Jones, Rojo, Blind (Shaw 85), Valencia,
Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 66), Januzaj, Di Maria,
Wilson (van Persie 66), Falcao.
I'm writing this post a bit late, I know, but I've been busy with my first semester exams. This game was on the eve of my Accounts exam but obviously that was no good excuse to give the game a miss. I've done my exam now (still one to go) and didn't do as well as I had expected to. The same could be said for this game. I know it's the FA Cup with its magic and all that, but you just expect to win against league two sides.
The performance was abysmal. During the first half Cambridge were actually better than us. We did up the tempo during the second half but it was to no avail. The Cambridge defenders defended brilliantly and earned themselves a replay at Old Trafford while bagging their club £1.7m. That's obviously like spare change for Manchester United but enough for Cambridge to fund their year's expenses...with 100k to spare! By the way I deviated into talking about money, you can see that I've been focusing on accounts during the past few days.
Back to the game. Now I wouldn't have minded if our players were beaten by a Cambridge team in a quiz but it's football we're talking about and I simply expect better from Di Maria, Falcao and the likes. We've drawn against lowly teams in the past. I clearly remember our Old Trafford FA Cup draw vs non-league side Exeter, so we've been here before, but there were about 6 youngsters playing in that game that night. Put Rooney in the side that played vs Cambridge and you'd have our best starting XI. Cambridge did defend with 9 men at times, so I'll be the first to admit that no matter how lacking in quality the opposition is, it is always difficult to score against teams who put a lot of men behind the ball. However, what worries me is the fact that we created so little and we had 80% possession! That has been our story throughout the year. We always seem to have a lot of possession but we're doing nothing with it. We seem to be lacking that player that gives that final defence splitting pass and when someone gives that pass, we've got two strikers who are either over the hill or off form. This is quite worrying given the ridiculous money we've spent in summer.
Bad results and shit performances happen; we've experienced quite a few since Fergie's retirement. What we need to do is take our performances to the next level. It's been a while since I've seen a convincing performance by our players. We might have had the excuse last year that our team was made up of too many has-beens but we've got some world class players this year and I simply expect better from them and from our coach who, by the way, isn't faring much better than his predecessor. Our strikers and midfielders need to perform. For all those picking on our defence; well, we've only conceding 3 goals in the last 6 games. In the PL, we've conceded 2 more than the 'mighty' Chelsea defence and we've actually got a better defensive record than City. So, while I admit that our defenders are not exactly world beaters, it's obvious that we're mostly being let down by our attacking front, which is made up of world class players. Someone needs to awaken our sleeping giants, let's hope van Gaal finally manages to do so without too much meddling with our formation and tactics.
I'm also writing this post after Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Tottenham were knocked out of the FA Cup. Liverpool drew at home vs Bolton too. It was a weekend when the old cliche 'magic of the FA Cup' worked its wonders. In spite of our dire performance, we are now probably the favourites to win the cup. I'd be really annoyed if we don't give it a right go. With all those teams out, this is definitely a perfect opportunity to finally getting our hands on the cup after 10 seasons or so.