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Why The League’s Far More Important Than The FA Cup

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Over the last few weeks I have been questioning the persistent attempts to give players out of form the chance to regain it. 

The players I’ve questioned over the last couple of months have been Partice Evra, David De Gea and Wayne Rooney who have all been woefully out of form.

Sir Alex dropped De Gea but continued to play the other two until today, when Wayne Rooney was missing in a Dads Army team that saw De Gea restored to play against Andy Carroll. Bad call Sir Alex!

Frankly I don’t care much about the FA Cup and so wasn’t too disappointed that we exited the distraction from the main event and maybe Sir Alex felt the same. 

The 4-3-3 attacking formation and 4-5-1 defensive arrangement relied on penetration down the wings from Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-Sung, and that both tracked back. On the right this worked very well with Rafeal Da Silva playing a blinder and the continued excellent form of Valencia being very encouraging.

On the left however, it soon became clear that Evra’s man of the match display against Arsenal was more about the poverty Arsenal had at right back than the return to form of our French fullback. 

Park’s enthusiasm wasn’t enough to beat Martin Kelly and Evra struggled to add value in attack and continues to wander in defence. Sir Alex changed it and Giggs returned to his old job and did ok, but we missed Nani badly.

Because of this Danny Welbeck was one-sided and always trying to hit the left side of goal with his runs, and 3 centre backs for Liverpool can surely handle a one trick option. And they did. 

In defence we were lucky that Liverpool played Stewart Downing wide right and Jordan Henderson wide left, if Dalglish had swapped them I’m sure we would have had problems, but crosses were rare and so Dracula De Gea had few of them to worry about except from corners and boy did he hate them. 

Quite why his plan was to stare at Carroll like he was in fear of the school bully, pushing him like he didn’t mean it rather than attacking the ball, and falling like a drunk when the ball would have smacked him in the face if he stood still, is beyond me. 

He dropped a cross out for a corner, dropped another in front of Carroll and then stared when Carroll challenged. Every corner was a stressful affair, his confidence eroding in front of the Kop, it wasn’t pretty, he was the reason we were 1-0 down. 

Evra was the reason we lost it, dreaming of something else he failed to track Dirk Kuyt to a long punt, and blew it. Our out of form players putting us out of the FA Cup, just as they put us out of the Champions League, 

So what good came from this game?

Firstly we were the better team, at Anfield. Next we saw 75 minutes of Paul Scholes and he did ok. 

We learned Michael Carrick isn’t the answer to our attacking midfield problem, we also found that Jonny Evans can play solid, that Chris Smalling is excellent, that Rafael is the long term right back, that Giggs is incredible and that Park is better attacking the box than anyone else in midfield.

Lots of positives from a defeat that leaves us a straight run at the title. 

Much better than our last trip to Anfield, which ended in a draw back in October.

So despite the defeat I’m not downcast, if we had played Anders Lindergard and the other Da Silva we would have won, but as the FA Cup is for losers lets leave it to Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool because it’s all they have got.

Come on United, catch Manchester City before the African Cup of Nations ends because then they will be too strong for us.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve