Manchester United made light work of Cambridge United in the fourth-round replay of the FA Cup. After faltering against the League Two side in the first leg, the Red Devils made sure Richard Money’s charges did not cause another FA Cup upset after the surprise exit of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James Wilson were on target for United as they steamrolled past Cambridge.
Let’s take a look at 5 notable points from Tuesday’s late fixture.
1. FA Cup is United’s to lose –
While it might be too early to jump ships, Manchester United can and should win the FA Cup. Deprived of the trophy since 2004 when they defeated Milwall, and with both Manchester City and Chelsea eliminated, one might feel this is United’s best chance to get their hands on the FA Cup. Manager Louis Van Gaal too knows his side are touted as favorites, while also acknowledging Arsenal and Liverpool.
Talking to the reporters, he said, “We have a real chance now, we are the highest qualified team in the FA Cup. Our status is the highest club. People are maybe betting on us. I’m not allowed… I’m not a casino man.”
“Of course I think that the highest qualified teams have the highest possibilities to win than lower, but Arsenal is still in the cup, and is also a very high competitor, Liverpool is also there, we will see tomorrow, Bolton Wanderers is not so easy.”
2. Maros Rojo continues to impress –
With much being talked about United’s shaky defence throughout the season, one man who has lately managed to shrug the critics is Marcos Rojo. The summer arrival from Sporting Lisbon has now settled in well, becoming van Gaal’s defender of choice.
The Argentine was nominated United’s player of the month for January alongside Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia, and might well bag the award. Rojo, playing as a left-back against Cambridge, was equally adept in the full-back role, and has continued delivering quality performances. The Estudiantes graduate was rock solid in the Red Devils’ wins over QPR, Leicester after returning from a dislocated shoulder injury.
3. Wayne Rooney can continue in midfield until strikers keep firing –
Captain Wayne Rooney put in another exceptional performance, once again from the midfield to lead his side to the FA Cup fifth-round. With some suggesting him to be deployed in his favored striking position, his continued influence in the middle of the park has given the notion that the England captain might be best suited there.
Stationed as an unorthodox right-midfielder role in his diamond formation role by Louis van Gaal, Rooney carried out his business in a calm and unflashy manner. Radamel Falcao, who scored against Leicester at the weekend, although, is yet to fully convince, is slowly looking to get back to his best, while Robin van Persie proved havoc for Cambridge, and was unlucky not to score. And the Dutchman’s replacement James Wilson scoring, the striking department for the time being looks sorted. Van Gaal earlier in January explained Rooney’s utilization as a midfielder.
“He has the lung capacity to run 90 minutes as a midfielder,” said Van Gaal. “That’s why I used him like a midfielder. I can also use him as a striker. For the team at the moment, it’s better he plays in midfield,” the Dutchman said.
4. Paddy McNair’s formidable emergence –
Since making his ‘lucky’ debut against West Ham in September; lucky after being drafted into the squad after crisis hit Louis van Gaal’s defence, McNair has been no short of revelation for Manchester United. The young Northern Irishman to date has made 12 appearances for the Red Devils, most notably against Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham and West Ham. The 19-year-old started as a right-back against Cambridge, and was equally at home in the new role, despite predominantly being a centre-half. He, along with Rooney, caused all sorts of trouble to Cambridge down the right-flank, having fair shares of dangerous crosses and shots. The youngster, whose goal-bound shot was cleared off the line, after the game said he is ready to play anywhere for the team.
“I’ll play anywhere – if I’m asked to play up front, I’ll play up front. I’m just enjoying the experience.” McNair told MUTV.
5. James Wilson is the future –
It took just 7 minutes for James Wilson to find the back of the net against Cambridge. Netting his second goal of the season, Wilson’s goal was a well taken goal, rifling the ball from outside the box, exactly knowing where the goal is for a player who seems to be born with a knack of scoring goals.
The departures of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck provided Wilson with an opportunity, and the England U-20 International has grabbed it with both hands. Louis van Gaal’s policy of presenting the youths with a fair share of game-time has helped Wilson’s cause, and it is evident to see why the teenager is a regular fixture in Van Gaal’s squad.
And it has not been just his goals, with Wilson appearing off the bench to run behind and trouble the tired defences with his pace and direct running to a maximum effect. With performances, Falcao and van Persie can no more rest on their laurels, with ‘Willow’ more than capable to grab their spots.