With the derby from the weekend now out of sight and out of mind, the reds are back in action again on Tuesday night, traveling south to visit Aldershot Town of League Two in the Carling Cup fourth round.
In what is only the second meeting of the two clubs, the first being in the same competition in 1970 (when Aldershot Town were previous club Aldershot), the reds will look to utilise their squad, and give ‘fringe’ players some much needed game time. There’s not been a better chance to stake a claim for the first team in the up and coming, ever important Premier League fixtures.
The likelihood of resting the entire side who played in the derby on Sunday is high, and with that in mind Ben Amos may feature between the sticks. Anders Lindergaard would be the first choice in people’s minds however he’s getting some appearences in on European nights.
A defence of Rafael, Jones and Vidic could start, together with Ezekiel Fryers who had an impressive debut in the last round of this competition against Leeds United.
In the midfield, four from Carrick, Pogba, Park, Valencia – together with a possible return to action for Tom Cleverley may be in Sir Alex’s selection, and leading the line Berbatov and Owen are likely to supply the fire power. Mame Diouff will also be itching to play again.
Calling ‘The Shots’
If this were the FA Cup, this tie would provide all the romance for the League Two outfit, generating a lot of attention for the minnows who have been in their current guise since 1992.
But for them, and many of their supporters, this will be the biggest game of the clubs history and they’ll certainly enjoy the occasion. Not long out of the Blue Square Premier, the team are managed by former Wimbledon striker Dean Holdsworth. They lie in 15th place in the division, and have lost their last three matches at the Recreation Ground.
Available again for Aldershot is Danny Hylton, top scorer this season who returned to the side as a substitute in their 5-2 win over Dagenham on Saturday. On-loan forward Adam Smith is also likely to feature.
The Shots will be aiming to make United their fourth victims of their Carling Cup run, a competition that they’d never won a match in since their promotion from the Conference, and in previous rounds knocked out West Ham, Carlisle and Rochdale.
United and the Carling Cup
Rightly or wrongly, there always seems to be a lack of excitement in the early rounds of the Carling Cup for United. Some years we’ve taken the competition with a pinch of salt – a nice to have with not much emotion wasted if we make an exit. But in other years, it’s been an important trophy, has bled fringe players and given them game time. However, I don’t think that this is always the right way to do it. People forget that when this happens, a whole load of non-regular players play together in a kind of R20;thrown together” mix. they’re not used to each other, don’t have the experienced guys to help them through – and some fans forget to understand the importance of the grass roots at Old Trafford and are quick to jump on backs and shatter confidence.
I don’t think this approach does anything for young players wanting to make their mark – in fact I think it can be quite the opposite.
But on Tuesday night, I feel there’ll be a heavier balance of ‘big guns’ to complement one or two of the kids – and I think we’ll take victory from the game, and the young lads will take a lot from the experience.
As flat as the game may look from a United point of view, Aldershot will be having their own cup final. A lot of positives for this one, and I’m looking forward to it.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.