Monday, January 05, 2009

Nothing saintly about Southampton, in men against boys cup-tie......

For the opening twenty minutes of United's FA Cup tie with Southampton it was for the most part a fairly decent contest which managed to keep the St Mary's crowd on the edge of the collective seats. That was until John O'Shea was allowed a free header from a corner which was initially well saved by Davis, before Danny Welbeck nodded home the opening goal of what turned out to be a one-sided contest. From that point on it was pretty much all downhill for Southampton's young team. Paterson was rightly red-carded on 37 minutes for a horror tackle on Nemanja Vidic - make no mistake, it was a potential leg breaker, save for the Serb's shin-pads.

Many of Southampton's victorious team from the epic 1976 FA Cup final were there to see this latest encounter between these two clubs. Many of them will have been totally bewildered at what they saw, because this current Southampton team lacks experience, so much so that it was almost frightening at times. It should have been a day when United needed no help from referee Mike Riley, but it didn't stop the official from awarding the Reds' a penalty for handball just three minutes into the second half - which Nani converted and in so doing further angering an already unhappy home crowd.

Rooney came on for a late cameo performance and he supplied the killer ball for Gibson, another second substitute, to deliver the final nail in Southampton's FA Cup coffin.

On a day when it was all a little too easy for the Champions, Fergie will have learnt little from this FA Cup tie, the same cannot be said for Southampton who are flirting with relegation in the Championship.

Next up, United take on struggling Derby County in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Pride Park. The Rams only just scraped beyond the FA Cup challenge of non-league Forest Green when winning by the odd goal in seven, whether or not that result will have any bearing on Fergie's selection plans will be interesting to find out. Do not be surprised if United field a young team in midweek ahead of the biggest game of the season in Europe so far, when United take on Chelsea on Sunday at Old Trafford. If United can take all three points it will give the Champions the perfect start to the second-half of the season.

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