Thursday, January 22, 2009

Injury crisis: Like United before them, will Spurs be accused of devaluing the FA Cup?

Question: IF Fergie came out and followed the example of Harry Redknapp and said he wasn't going to risk his key players in this weekend's pick-of-the-round FA Cup tie, what would the likely media reaction be?

The answer is we would be told (for at least the next five years) that clubs no longer take the FA Cup that seriously because United have devalued the competition. It was ever thus, it is one rule for the Red Devils and another for the rest.

Nine years on, sections of the all too often one-eyed media are still blaming United for taking the gloss off the FA Cup following the Reds Brazilian farrago in 2000 when the FA rubber stamped United's entry into the much maligned FIFA World Team Championship. It was a decision that was backed by the National Federation of Football Clubs, added to which the government encouraged United's FA Cup exemption in a bid to help England's world cup bid.

Carping aside, like any fair minded fan, I totally agree with Redknapp's point of view. The economics of top-flight English football dictate that Premier League survival is paramount above all other considerations.

United have their own injury problems and it is likely that Fergie will have to reshuffle an already depleted pack. With Gary Neville, Rafael and Wes Brown injured, Darren Fletcher could once again be asked to fill-in at right-back.

John O'Shea could be asked to play in central defence if Jonny Evans ankle injury fails to respond to treatment, especially as Fergie will have one eye on Tuesday's trip to West Brom. If the Irishman plays centre-back, it means that Fabio da Silva could be given his debut at left-back.

United have enough fit bodies to fill midfield, but the continued absence of Rooney will be giving Fergie cause for concern. Danny Welbeck played up front alongside Tevez against Derby in midweek, the United youngster contributed when making John O'Shea's goal and he had one or two decent touches, but he's still a kid and raw at that. Welbeck hasn't fully developed yet and so we will be better able to judge him in 12 month's time.

It is at this stage of the season that United's strength in depth is being tested to the full. Fergie's resources are being stretched to the limit as we saw against Derby County in midweek when we lost three stars to injury.

Fighting on four fronts can turn out to be a costly exercise where those injuries are concerned - not forgetting the cost for cash-strapped supporters. You do wonder if Fergie has any regrets about going so far in this season’s Carling Cup, which no one really cares about that much - it is a competition that has been devalued more than the British pound and it's a situation which is likely to continue..

Finally, another question to end on; Is the big man really going for the ultimate, the Quadruple? It certainly seems that way. Personally, I wouldn't put any money on it actually happening, not until United have disposed of Inter Milan in the Champions League, if indeed it turns out that way.

1 comment:

  1. I was at OT for this match, and although we obviously had selection issues due to circumstances beyond our control, I thought we managed to pull out a very decent team. Spurs for that matter also played a strong team, 'Arry going back on his words from earlier in the week. Methinks he was just smarting from the embarrassment Burnley nearly put him through?
    Apart from Pavlyuchenko's header in the first few minutes I don't recall seeing any other meaningful attack from the visitors, certainly not in the first half. Between Scholes and Carrick we pretty much had the midfield wrapped up. It was good to see Berbatov shut the Spurs contingent up with the goal!!
    The first half performance was pretty solid, but I think United were slightly guilty of taking the foot off the pedal in the second half.
    I thought that on several occasions United were playing too narrowly, with available options down the flanks that weren't used often enough. I for one cannot wait until Evra comes back, as I think we have missed him.
    Hopefully the lads who came off with knocks won't be adding to our long term casualty list...

    ReplyDelete

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