United 2 - 1 Sunderland (Out on Penalties)
Rafael Smalling Evans Buttner(Evra)
Januzaj Carrick(Jones) Fletcher Kagawa(Valencia)
I thought our season could not stoop any lower and, well, it just did. We had a chance to go to Wembley and prove a point that we can still do it against the big guns but we failed the Sunderland test and will watch the Wembley showdown from home. Looking at City at the moment, I should probably thank heavens we are not going to that final because they would have battered us. Looking at todays elimination in that light should help ease the pain a little bit. Having said that, we should be kicking ourselves for not taking on this rather poor Sunderland side. Our efforts in front of goal were appalling and, once again, we failed to win the midfield battle. At the back I thought Smalling and Evans were quite good especially the former. Rafael is out of form and Buttner is, well, Buttner. Our best player, again, was Januzaj. He was excellent at times but made a couple of wrong decisions on others. No need to worry though, he'll soon learn to right the wrongs.
Although Sunderland had only ONE shot on target, which they scored, a goal for them always looked on the cards. They had countless corners and quite a few near misses. At the end, it was a David De Gea fumble that made Sunderland think that they've won the tie only to have the game go to penalties through a Chicharito goal on the 120th minute.
Regarding the goal we conceded; I think I would have saved that shot while balancing a basin of water on my head and wearing a blindfold. It was that easy. The fact that our goalie fumbled it shows the level of confidence our players have at the moment. It's been a while since we've last seen David make a mistake in our goal but the players' confidence is pretty much drained and they are even doubting themselves now. Just look at that horror show of the penalty shoot out we had. Welbeck and Jones are surely better than that while the tame efforts of our other penalty takers showed why Moyes must step up and instill some kind of belief in his players. To his credit, De Gea tried to redeem himself, after that shocking mistake, by saving two penalties....but it was not to be.
So, what have we learned today?
1. You cannot take any team in England for granted.
2. No team fears us at Old Trafford anymore. This started under Fergie's helm during the past couple of seasons. Moyes will have to work hard to create a team that instills fear in the opponents while the crowd should do their part to make the Old Trafford experience a terrible one for every opposing player.
3. Smalling is a very good centre-back. He's shit at right-back, so stop playing him there. If we haven't got anyone to cover Rafael, we should find a decent right back and buy him. However, I hear reserve player Varela is a very good prospect.
4. It's bleedin obvious that Januzaj will be world class in a couple of seasons. At the moment, we've got a team that depends on the performances of an 18 year old and that is not something to boast about. What I fear is that this kid will experience a burnout and its effects will be felt in the upcoming seasons. Moyes must be careful.
5. Kagawa should pack his bags and fuck off to another league. Brilliant when at Dortmund but a flop at our club. He could take his fanboys with him for all I care. Most of his fanboys probably don't know that a ball is round. Anyway, we've given him enough chances.
6. Chicharito's only good when he comes off the bench. I still think he's one to keep though. 7 goals ain't that bad given the limited time he's had on the pitch.
7. Why on earth were we keeping back against Sunderland? We should be more adventurous if we want to win games and win them handsomely.
8. Our penalty takers would make England's penalty takers look like Germans. That's how appalling our penalties were.
From now on it can only get better. We will have to buy players though and, apparently, we've already secured one. Mata looks likely to be joining our club very soon. What do I think about him? Excellent person and an even better footballer. I'm not too sure what's his preferred position but I hear that he's not suitable for a 4-4-2 formation. Regardless, I guess Moyes and his team know what they're doing so I ain't worried about that. Moyes needs to build his own team and this acquisition will help him do that. I've said it time and again, we only need 3 new players and we'll be back up there with the best teams in England. Until then, patience will be key.