Stoke 0 - 2 United
Rafael Smalling Evans Evra
Valencia Cleverley Jones Anderson(Chicharito) Young
So we're through to the semi final of the Capital One Cup and one step closer to winning the first major trophy of the season. I know people might say that "it's just the league cup" but Moyes should go all out to win this competition because it could be a springboard to greater things in the future. I remember a team containing Roo and Ronaldo had barely tasted success until we won the League Cup in 2006. That was the boost our brilliant young football team needed to achieve bigger things. We eventually won the league and were crowned kings of Europe a couple of years later. Who knows, maybe winning this cup could have the same effect on this current team. I still believe we're pretty good in all departments with the exception of the central midfield area. That's the area in which we desperately need an influential player, someone who is willing to take risks by passing forward. Other than that, we've got a brilliant goalie, a pretty solid defensive line, decent wingers, 2 world class strikers and 2 very good understudies.
So, what about today's game? Well, the first half was dire at best. The adverse weather conditions didn't help neither team and keeping possession was almost mission impossible. Manchester United improved drastically during the second half. We looked willing to attack Stoke as Valencia and Rafael, on the right, shifted into last Sunday's gear. Stoke's defense was resolute until Young (yes, Young) scored a screamer. He let out all of his piling anger in his celebration and was yellow carded for his troubles. The goal was a real confidence booster both for the team as well as Young himself. The players on the left suddenly kicked into life and we started looking dangerous on both wings. Young became 20 times the player we've been seeing during the past season or so and eventually he also notched an assist. With the ball at his feet, Young drew two players onto him and freed Evra who finished expertly with his right foot. Another beauty and game over.
I'm pretty pleased with the way the team performed. We looked better during the second half as most of our players upped the tempo. Smalling and Evans were solid at the back while Cleverley and Jones improved as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute. Anderson was, as usual, a disappointment. I cannot recall him doing anything influential. Fletcher, who was on for 10 minutes, was much more positive than our Brazilian. Surely his days at United are numbered but, then again, I've been saying this for the past couple of years.
Anyway, we'll be facing Sunderland in the semi final with the prospect of facing either City or West Ham in the final if we manage to beat the Black Cats. Imagine a final vs City! That would be immense.
Finally, a word of praise has to go to our travelling supporters. Absolutely brilliant. They never gave up on the team even when, during the first half, it seemed to be one of those torrid football days when nothing is working. How I wish I was in that crowd of 5000 reds. However, knowing my luck this year, we would have probably lost if I was there, so it's best I watch from home! West Ham next, come on, let's go on a good run!