Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reds fans silver lining to Carling Cup exit...

Much will be made of United's shock Carling Cup exit after Coventry City dumped the Reds out of the competition on Wednesday after Maltese star Mifsud scored in either half in front of a reported crowd of 74,055 fans.

After the game Ferguson said that he was 'flabbergasted' and everyone is 'shocked'. The manager doesn't believe in publicly blaming individual players and last night was no different.

However, Ferguson did hint that he was disappointed with his young players. Defender Phil Bardsley was taken off at half-time and much talked about Jonny Evans was then switched to leftback, as Wes Brown was introduced to shore up the back four but it didn't stop the visitors scoring a killer goal on 70 minutes. Coventry's goal hero Mifsud should have scored a hatrick, as he hit the woodwork and missed a sitter when Tomasz Kuszczak the United keeper pushed the ball into his path late on, but he somehow failed to find the target.

There is undoubtedly cause for concern about this defeat as United splashed out £36m in the summer to sign Nani and Anderson and they did not impress on the night. Nani's passing and final ball was woeful. There is concern about the lack of strength in depth in the striking department at the club from the first team to down to the reserves. Dong simply doesn't look like he's going to make it at United, and Fraser Campbell is another who doesn't look as though he has a long term future at a club where the expectations are so high.

In the bigger picture though, despite the defeat and the concerns over the performances of young and new players alike. United's first team squad despite lacking quality striking options in depth is as good as any in division, but playing in four competitions would have stretched Fergie's playing resources to their limit and so if United can do well in the league and the Champions League by winning either or both, the we the fans can look back at the Coventry defeat and say they did us a favour. That may or may not turn out to be a forlorn hope, time will tell.

On another disappointing night on the pitch there something of an ironic bonus for United's cash-strapped fans. Clubs around Europe will no doubt look at last night's attendance figure at Old Trafford in total bewilderment. Here we have the Carling Cup, aka the Mickey Mouse Cup, yet the Reds attracted a crowd of approaching 75,000, albeit 11,000 of them were following the visitors.

What the figures do not tell you is that many of the 63,000 or so Reds fans didn't even want to be there as this season the club has forced season ticket holders to join United's much maligned automatic cup scheme, which stipulates that fans have to buy tickets for all first home games including the Carling Cup.

At least those fans who cannot really afford it wont have to fork out any more cash this season for Carling Cup tickets - so there is a silver lining to that defeat for many home fans.

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