The Brazilian, the Scotsman and the Credit Card CupBy: Ian | September 27th, 2012
As you will all be able to tell from the post’s title, this is the story of the somewhat less successful follow up to Narnia’s ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. It began, in a land not so very far away (Manchester), and featured characters that came from nowhere, one that came back and one that I have thought of as fairly dull, only for him to liven the whole show up. A renamed competition, with Carling too busy in the bar to remember to renew sponsorship probably, was picked up by Capita One, and so provide the background for Utd’s assault on a competition that has seen the fifth round claim us in the last two years.
First to the table of contents, specifically the team sheet. De Gea in between the sticks, supported by a back four of such experience that Alex Buttner, veteran of one whole game, was the joint top in terms of time played. Vermijl, who presumably scores well at Scrabble, Keane and Wootton joined him. The midfield was far different with Cleverly, Anderson and Darren Fletcher, on his first start since 2011. Welbeck, Rooney and Chicharito up front suggested goals.
Not many were in Old Trafford, something partly attributed to season ticket holders having to by them in order to get away allocations. So less people than usual saw Utd start fairly brightly with Buttner, who we know already likes to attack, having an early shot. Another effort, a header this time, from Chicharito came close, but it really wasn’t the Mexican’s night in terms of luck. Dan Gosling messed up a great chance for Newcastle to respond, but the first excellent chance came to Anderson, looking a bit thinner than his holiday self, linking with Cleverly and forcing a solid save. I was impressed with Anderson this game, not something I say often, as his progress since his expensive move has been marginal at best.
Rooney fell deeper as the half moved on, pinging the ball around well on his return, and an excellent ball over the top to Welbeck led to the young striker smashing it into the keeper. A good chance and maybe a potential goal if he’d put it across the box instead. But this chance was but a quarter one compared to the opportunity that fell to Cleverly in the 35th minute. Released by Chicharito, the young midfielder managed to hit it wide to the surprise of all present. How he managed that, we’ll never know, but Utd’s top inside the dressing-room reporter Wayne Rooney, who wished to remain anonymous (damn), informed all that Ferguson was none to happy about this at half-time. Translated: he got a right bollocking.
However, an Anderson dash led to the first goal, and what a goal it was. Unleashed with power from his left foot, it battered the post and went in for overall sublime finish. As I said, I have been disappointed with Anderson in the past, but finishes like that, ones that he doesn’t do often enough, show his potential if only he can find it. Half time followed, after which both teams traded chances, but Utd made it a firm two-nil with Cleverly stroking in a nice curled finish from the edge of the box. His celebration showed his relief of escaping the memory of his earlier chance.
Newcastle responded with substitutes Ferguson and Cisse, who combined quickly for the goal-machine of last season, Cisse, to nod in from close range. Chicharito followed with a chance smacked against the bar, leaving the young lad wondering what was going on with him tonight. Powell came on shortly after, along with Ryan Tunnicliffe. Not much reaction to this, but by all accounts Tunnicliffe’s father made a bet when his son was aged nine that he would make a Utd appearance so pocketed £10,000 from a £100 stake at 100-1, so he was probably uncontainable.
Cisse threatened a longer match with a beautiful attempt at an overhead that crashed into the bar, but Utd held on for a 2-1 win. The draw followed swiftly and it threw out Chelsea, who, after some research, are apparently one of the minnows of the tournament and should be easily pushed over at their home ground. Will be interesting to see how both teams approach that one. But to remain in the here and now, Utd played well in an all-round decent game, with four debutants and two returns from injury. All players involved needed game time, even the more senior ones, and to get through a game with inexperienced defenders with the current defensive injury nightmare was also a positive. News is that Vidic is out for another two months after complications with the same knee that kept him out last season. This is worrying, for although that spell is nowhere near his time out previously, that knee seems to be channelling the consistency of Ferdinand’s back. Something to watch, let’s hope Vidic gets over this soon. Nice also to see Fletcher manage the full match, a big moment for him.
Spurs to follow at the weekend. Games coming thick and fast, excellent. Thoughts below as usual please folks.