Cleat Geeks

Manchester United, Penalties & the Capital One Cup

capital-one-cup‘When it comes to penalties its a bit of a lottery’, so the commentators informed the watching or listening public at the end of 120 minutes football between Manchester United and Middlesbrough.

The analogy of course being that much like the lottery penalties are a random animal, players you expect to score don’t, while those who are not gifted with the skill of a marksman, do. Where that analogy breaks down is in a lottery no one starts with an advantage, no matter how many prayers are said or incantations offered up.

In theory 1,000 lotto tickets are better than 1, but there are no guarantees, no sure fire winning formulas, no number or set of numbers are more likely to come out than any other set of numbers. However when a premiership team plays a championship team at home, the balance should at least be weighted a little in their favor because of their superior skills, techniques and management.

In one of the rarest events in football both Manchester teams were playing at home on the same night. The Manchester police stipulated that because of possible crowd congestion and or trouble Manchester City were to kick off at 7:45pm with United kicking off at 8pm on Wednesday 28th October.

SergioRomeroUnited had Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial sitting on the bench as Louis Van Gaal made nine changes from the team that fought out the Manchester derby. It was not to much of a shock to see Sergio Romero in goal as his chances of inclusion in a premiership match are very limited unless David DeGea hits poor form or is injured.

The back four of Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Marcus Rojo promised strength and experience in front of Romero. The midfield was captained by the ever young Michael Carrick, with Marouane Fellaini while the rest of the United team bordered on youth more than experience with Andreas Pereira, in the hole, Memphis Depay, Jesse Lingard,on the wings and James Wilson as the main striker.

Once again and even with nine changes from the previous match United failed to impress against a Middlesbrough team that have not had a very good October in the championship. In the first half Lingard was lucky not to receive a red card for a particular crunching tackle. Wilson on one of his rare chances for the first team came off injured at half time with Wayne Rooney taking up the striking role. Ashley Young 61 minutes replaced Rojo and Anthony Martial 71 minutes replaced Depay however the team still struggled in the final third of the field.

After 120 minutes of football which included 30 minutes extra time the match went into the sudden death stage of the penalty shootout needing to be settled on the night. The penalties which at least settled who would go through to the next round and who would go out where a reflection of a poor game especially from United. Only Pereire netted for United while Middlesbrough scored three of their five to end the tie and give themselves a home tie against Everton in the quarter final.
LouMacariOn MUTV after the match Lou Macari who played for United from 1972-84 had some stern words to say about not only this match but the season under Van Gaal. He said people ask him to, “describe the team, I have difficulty thinking what type of team we are, are we horrible and nasty well I think the answer to that is no, are we cavalier, is it non stop attacking, I think the answer to that is no. I am trying to highlight Manchester United teams over the years here at Old Trafford and I just cant put tag on the team. I don’t know how to describe the team I can’t describe what kind of team we are, to think what is our strength, we need to improve as a team.”

Gordon McQueen a United player from 1978-85-also added, “The bottom line is that Manchester United have been knocked out by a championship side, and for me that’s not good enough.”
Adding to the after match debate the former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes says he “would not enjoy” playing in Louis van Gaal’s side.

Whilst Scholes who played for United from 1994-2013 praised United’s defense saying they are “coached brilliantly” he again criticized the team’s overall style of play. “There’s a lack of creativity and risk,” said Scholes, who played 718 games for United. Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester he added: “It’s a team now you wouldn’t want to play against because they’re tightly organised”. Whist adding, “But it seems he (Van Gaal) doesn’t want players to beat men and it’s probably not a team I’d have enjoyed playing in.” This is not the first time this season Scholes has been openly critical of the Van Gaal style of play and it will be of interest to hear Van Gaal’s response later in the week.

As the first chance of silverware disappears for Manchester United this season the United faithful will be hoping for a brighter more sustained attack on the remaining prizes with little if anything coming down to lady luck or penalty shootouts.

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