Whenever United get drawn against supposedly inferior opposition in the FA cup, I always draw a sigh of complete resentment.
Sure, it’s great for the club’s fans, particularly those who join their ranks as soon as they read the paper to find out about the money spinning draw the next day. And, yes, it creates an air of romance unique to the FA cup as an exercise of giant-killing potential.
But for the giant in these fixtures, it is only ever a chance to draw out some negatives and the game against Crawley Town proved no exception for United. Often these games prove a great opportunity for the fringe players of the squad to get a run out and essentially provide evidence that they are not completely useless and that they should not be shipped elsewhere.
The fact is that against teams that inhabit the lower leagues, a professional and complete performance is expected when one considers the wages they earn and the level of skill the staff believe they have. Naturally then, if and when a one sided victory emerges no performance can be celebrated and no lavish after thought is given.
However these games provide ample opportunity to see who in the squad should never be seen again and have their taxi fares paid to go and sign a contract at some other willing club who will take them on. The fact is that if they cannot produce a decent performance against teams of the lower leagues then they should not be playing for a team that regularly challenges for top honours. Now, I understand that within this theory there are complications. One has to remember that the “David” in all this are often up for the challenge and, knowing they have nothing to lose, give it their all and fight it out until the end.
I also realise that with these games, when fringe players are used, the team is not as gelled as it should be and this ultimately can lead to a few hiccups and not the ruthlessly efficient performance we would expect.
However, regardless of this, one can often pick out a couple of performance that ultimately will tell us who should and should not be playing for United and the game against Crawley Town did exactly that. Before I go on, I ought to say that Crawley can be extremely proud of their performance at Old Trafford and gave a performance that will have given them and their fans something to remember. However, despite this, I believe United were, frankly, poor. And I will now pick out who I believe to be the main culprits in this display.
Let’s start with Gabriel Obertan. Honestly, after his display I cannot see much of a career left for him at Old Trafford. Yes, he has got pace, but the rest of his game is completely lacking. He was wasteful, could not pass, barely managed to work the Crawley defence down the wing and was largely ineffectual. This belief was largely backed up by the constant groans of the United supporters when time and again he failed to make use of the ball as well as the fact that that only comment the commentary team of ITV seemed to be able to make about him was that “he could run”.
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I know before we have seen flashes of potential from Obertan, but the fact he could not make anything happen on the wing against a non-league side made up of players who are not professionals, is shameful.
Whilst on the subject of wingers, I will mention another who I think is not worthy of a United contract, Bebe. I know that compared to Obertan, Bebe deserves a little leniency, in that he was picked up as a complete unknown and thrust into life at Old Trafford without much professional background and without a grasp of the English language.
But regardless of this, I think his presence is a complete mistake on the part of Sir Alex Ferguson. I can understand the desire to pick out a player with raw talent and develop him into a world class force but the fact of the matter is that he is simply not good enough to be in the United squad and suffered from the same problems as Obertan out on the wing. His one saving grace is that he was better than Obertan and at least put in a good cross or two.
The jury is still out on some other members of the United team though, after Saturday’s performance. Darren Gibson produced flashes of quality but whether or not he can cut it consistently against top flight opposition remains to be seen in the long run. Carrick looked just as he has done against every team in recent weeks and I still cannot envisage him staying much longer. I think the centre of United’s midfield suffered from overcrowding in the first half and did not truly mix together well, hence the removal of the largely anonymous Anderson at half time.
So what possible positive comments could one make about the game? Well, Hernandez always looked to threaten and try for goal, but unfortunately, the service to him was largely appalling but for a couple of occasions, Gibson’s through ball in the first half being a notable example. Fabio was able to get some game time alongside his brother and showed that potentially as a pair, they may well be a frightening prospect for defences.
Chris Smalling came on and continues to justify the fee United paid for his services with a self assured performance and it would be fair to say Lindegaard was rarely troubled. But despite this, no single player can be singled out for praise to an extent because unless a ridiculously one sided scoreline emerges, a quality performance is what we expect from a top team like United which is why we are left to dwell on the negatives as if we had witnessed a defeat. Which, at 1-0, and a Crawley team that walked away the happier, was certainly the feeling left with this United supporter.
Do other United fans agree? Or is my assessment too harsh?
Leave your comments below.
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