MATCH REPORT: Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United

Capital One Cup Semi-Final

Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United  

Well, at least this time we get a chance to put things right in a couple of weeks.  But there’s no hiding from the fact that this was the third defeat in seven days for United, something that seems almost unthinkable, and once again it came against a side who, for all their endeavour, really shouldn’t have posed much of a challenge to a team that, while still missing Rooney and Van Persie, was close to United’s best available eleven.   Despite that, once again we found ourselves chasing the game deep into the second half.  Not for the first time this season only Januzaj looked to be capable of pulling us back into it, but ultimately he was unable to repeat the heroics of his last visit to the Stadium of Light.

It wasn’t as if Sunderland enjoyed any great periods of dominance in the game.  They had the best of the possession in the early stages but United gradually found their rhythm and, with Giggs and Januzaj interchanging positions cleverly, the two began to cause problems.  After twenty-five minutes the Sunderland defence backed off and allowed Giggs the room to unleash a shot that was deflected onto the bar.  Januzaj then had the ball in the net when his shot deflected back to him off Giggs, who was in an offside position, and he hammered home the rebound.

Despite those chances, it was Sunderland who grabbed the lead in first half stoppage time, courtesy of two former United players and one current one.  An unmarked Wes Brown latched onto Larsson’s long free kick to stab a dangerous cross into the area and, with Phil Bardsley hovering, Giggs could only turn the ball into his own net.  In truth there had been perhaps too much of an air of easy composure about the Reds before that, a sense of relief that they were in a game that, for once, they didn’t absolutely need to win.  They’d exuded a kind of control that perhaps, for change, had made them appear almost too comfortable.

If that was the case, the goal robbed them of any complacency and United intially came out in the second half showing purpose and were level within seven minutes: a Giggs free kick was headed out of play by Fletcher but, from Cleverley’s corner, Vidic rose in time-honoured fashion at the far post to head the equaliser.

The largely unemployed De Gea made a brilliant save to deny Larsson as Sunderland pushed forward to regain the lead.  Unfortunately, he was called upon again within minutes when Tom Cleverley was adjudged to have brought down substitute Johnson inside the area.  It was a close call but a foolish challenge from Cleverley, who had no need to be trailing his leg so temptingly in front of the winger.  The on-loan Liverpool forward Borini stepped up and there was nothing De Gea could do to prevent his penalty from crashing into the roof of the net.

Johnson’s introduction had added an extra dimension to the home attack and United had a fairly mild storm to weather, though that’s been enough in recent times quickly to become a downpour on occasions.  At the other end, Januzaj fizzed a right footed shot just wide of the post and then saw a neat flick narrowly clear the bar.  Sadly, there was no cavalry charge of old from a United side who, once again, looked unsure of themselves and, the young Belgian excepted, largely lacking ideas of how to penetrate the ten man wall that quickly formed around the Sunderland penalty area.

It’s worth, of course, putting it into perspective and reminding ourselves that last time we were at this stage in this competition we managed to recover a similar deficit against far more dangerous opponents.  Many of the personnel involved are still with us but, despite that, even those who, like me, are prepared to back David Moyes to the hilt for as long as it takes, have to admit that this currently looks a very different United side from that one.

30 Comments

  1. i hate to say it but this is seriously a situation of i told you so!!!

    how many times have i said cleverley carrick fletcher in the middle is a terrible combination!!!! how many times have i said we need 2 wingers and 2 strikers… and how many times have i said if we want to create anything through the middle we need to build the team around kagawa as a central midfielder!!!!

    so many of you utd fans keep asking for fletcher carrick cleverely in the middle… and yet again it has failed miserably!!! heck our best run of form was with jones as a central midfielder because he was the only one with sense to move the ball in the correct direction.

    carrick plays more passes to defenders than anywhere else, and spends most of his time behind the defenders. it wasnt until the 88th min he finally decided to play an attacking pass!!! i have said he is not what utd need and every time he plays i am yet to see him make a winning influence!!

    kagawa will actually run at players and try to move the ball around, but we need 2 wingers. because he alwyas plays as a winger he has to move in the middle to get the ball, which means he has no passing options!!

    people please use sense!!!! experience can only get you so far, we need to play the right team in practice… not on paper!!! which is what moyes is doing and soooo many fans call for!!! football us not about all these stats you keep pulling out, but how it works on the pitch. utd are more predictable than a one way street.. pass to valencia!!! thats it!!! we need someone that will shock the whole match, and kagawa did that at least twice against swansea. they had about 5 people in the box and with his link up play with hernandezx and welbeck they almost broke through!!! fletcher carrick and cleverely love long balls, that only invites the opposition back onto us because of the hige space between midfield and attack, short pass and good movement mean we can hold pressure even if we lose the ball!!! i can stand us losing if we were actually playing great football and actually being misfortunate, but to all the stat lovers that will say we have great possession and passing accuracy.. we still lost!!!! at least if we can be proud of the performance than i say we were simply unlucky!

    playing kagawa on the wing and blindly playing carrick and cleverley just because of paper stats is what is costing us this season, because the stats that count the most (goals scored) is horrifically poor!!! because we are tooooo defensive… and as far as im aware the fans do not chant “defend! defend! defend!”

    i honestly believe we have the strongest squad in the league, but with this poor combination of players in the line up no wonder were doing so badly

    and seriously what the hell has zaha gotta do to get a start!!! this is the carling cup and he cant even get a sniff!!!!

  2. I agree with what MUFC4Eva. Too many average players in this side. How many of our midfield would get into any of the top 6 teams. Even teams like Newcastle have better midfielders than us. Moyes is a scapegoat and an easy target but you cannot blame him for what the players do when they cross the white line.

    Cleverley’s performances haven’t improved from when he first came into the first team, if anything he has regressed. I’ve never see anyone shuffle the ball sideways and backwards as much as he does.
    The Brazilian twins are liabilities, Rafael lost his head and should of gone today.
    Ferdinand’s lost it, just messes around with the ball and passes to people to put them under pressure.
    Chicharito used to be one of my favourite players but even he looks disinterested.
    Smalling for me is not a united player. Too much hacking and whacking clearances. For a bloke that is 6ft 5 he seems to get beaten in the air too often.

    The media and others need to realise, yes we did win the title last year at a ‘canter’ but how much of that was due to other teams under performing and Van Persie put in some superman performances, always coming up with the goods.

    I hope we stick with Moyes long term, he’s a good manager but has been left with a lot of under performing, average players.

  3. Some great statements ! I don’t blame moyes at all once the game starts coz moyes doesn’t make you miss chances, bad passing, poor marking, not moving forward, letting players walk past you like your stood still, when you cross that line you av an eliment of responsibility to do thing to your best ability but I think like prob 90% of Utd fan accept change but move forward we really do need a clear out sir Alex never managed with sentiment if your time was up it was up that’s what made him and the club great moyes will succeed in time last year champs year before nowt time, time, time but I will leave you with one though tonight again BEST FANS IN THE WORLD

  4. BORING GAME United were a tad unlucky with an own goal and penalty was a bit dodgy .Cleverly lame and Valencia just does the same old thing and hardly ever shoots anymore.Januzi shone out,Giggs had a shot BIG DEAL Evra had a try the rest just pass and pass.Great effort by Vidic, he is getting fitter.Little Rafael lost what form he had.Moyes is not to blame for loss of form or bad players and injuries but his team selections and substituting leaves a big doubt about his tactical ability.Another game on Saturday though and six more yrs to go ha ha.

  5. If not Moyes to blame,then who is the one that fielded Cleverley and Valencia in the team? Yup,Moyes. Poor passing,poor crossing, not moving forward. It can be avoided if these players aren’t on the team sheet.

    PLAY KAGAWA!
    and at MIDFIELD role. Not bloody left wing.
    and ZAHA too.

  6. Kagawa obviously isn’t the answer to play centre mid. Alex Ferguson never played him there and also played him wide left. Ferguson fielded Valencia and had a strong liking to Cleverley. We’re crying out for a player like Pogba and he was allowed to walk away whilst we’re stuck with players of Cleverly standard. Yes Moyes picks the team but he doesn’t tell Valencia to go out and put in poor crosses.

  7. The problem I have that no one seems to be addressing much, is the current state of everton after moyes departure. They seem like an inspired club under Martinez after moyes departure, to me that questions how good david moyes really is. Everyone is talking about a transition period at old Trafford yet seems to forget that moyes was at everton for 10 years so as much could be said about them, yet they seem to be playing better football than I’ve seen of them in recent seasons under moyes. I think the biggest mistake sir alex made was letting moyes replace the back room staff, that could be as much to blame for the complete change in team form. Under qualified staff along for the ride , this is Manchester United not everton, why fix what isn’t broken. There was a system in place and major disrupt to that system , (that of which was clearly working better than at any football club in the BPL),along with SAF retiring is a major cause for the current form and state of our club.

    • Agree, the change of backroom staff was the second big upheaval after the departure of Ferguson. Much continuity was lost.

    • I don’t doubt that Martinez is a good manager, he has got the team playing some very good football.

      However, getting Lukaku on loan is a bloody fortunate bit of luck for that man not to mention Barkley coming through (i know he still has to pick him). He also got Barry on loan who has been terrific.

      I will be interested to see how well they do without those 3 after the summer. I’m confident that at least 2 of them won’t be playing for Everton next season.

    • Agree, I have tried for half a season to comprehend some of moyes decision making also, and still have a hard time understanding his choices. Yesterday was a prime example. Bringing Hernandez off the bench with only 5 minuets to go when we are chasing the game is utterly stupid, he wasn’t even warmed up by the time the final whistle went.

  8. Trying to cheer things up, if everyone were fit this would be my team.

    De Gea

    Raphael Vidic Evans Evra

    Jones

    Valencia Kagawa Januzaj

    Van Persie Rooney

    The back four would still be of concern but it’s the best we have right now.

    I have seen Kagawa play in Germany and for Japan. He likes to play a mobile give and go style; short passing with almost constant movement. He would be seen at his best linking up with Rooney and Januzaj. In my team there would be interchanging between those three, and to some extent Van Persie, so that nobody is ‘stuck out’ on the left wing and there is mobility and movement through the centre.

    I’m not a big fan of Valencia because he doesn’t get enough quality crosses in and I would like to include Zaha instead. However until young Wilfred gets game time he’s hard to evaluate. Valencia can help out defensively.

    This team would give any other in the League cause for concern.

    Note, not a Carrick, Cleverley or Fletcher in sight.

  9. Reply to everything

    me too share the same line-up. I alway keep commenting played jones,kagawa like you did not it wasted.

  10. I have said before and after the defeat in fa cup match that smalling,evans,cleversly is tired. See that match poor passing

  11. Its a two legs match. Why moyes can’t used loan return player. I said before bring n.powell,j.lingard back they will help us. Now suffer moyes!

  12. Macheda has return why he don’t used him. He isn’t new. He have played fa cup,league cup and even champion league too under sir alex. So that some key player get rest.

  13. Even jesse lingard could have played in place of tired cleversly. Moyes can’t make good selection now suffer why he show the door to sir alex coaching staff.

  14. A central defender he used as rb when we got fabio. Wat to said he got no fresh player now. All are tired and we will face again swansea. now imagine wat we will do now.

  15. WE WANTS THE PRECIOUS says GOLLUM
    WE WANT A PROFIT SAY THE OWNERS
    WE WANT ENTERTAINING SAY THOSE WHO ARE COUGHING UP
    THE BUCKAROOS

  16. Who too blame
    manager or player!
    I said manager. Becoz he know the tight fixture that manutd will played. And he has not make good selection. Result Player tired. In boxing day,new year,fa cup and now league so many match in a week he should have plan a make a good selection which player too play.

  17. And he said that united have big squad! And wat about player which return from loane. Not Winning League i don’t care. We have won many. Wat about fa cup,league title and champion league. We always wanted to create the same which we did past year in 1999.

  18. With that team he isn’t able to win every match in a row and u think buy big name player will rearranged all mess that united facing now! Bullshit

  19. the tempo is too slow , unnecessary touches slowing the tempo down ,need to be more creative working together in attack.playing balls in and making runs with pace, that’s how we open up defences.we really miss RVP and rooney together.

  20. yes,i agree with MUFC4EVA!
    Kagawa actual position is behind the striker or in the middle. so with that , he can easily give the pass to where. or, give Kagawa free position; maybe it will be better again. with Rooney / Van Persie up front. meanwhile, highly Hernandez this season is not very effective in the resolution ahead. Smalling also less competent and often do not succeed. Valencia too tired. Nani injury. I look forward to performing Zaha but apparently NOT!! I do not know what the problem with Zaha Moyes.
    once again I agree with MUFC4EVA for midfielder position . three of them less suitable .
    we have left defenders are good, like Fabio & Buttner. Rafael ‘s absence can not be replaced temporarily by Fabio?? Yes. we need a combination of tactics to match players match and Moyes yet to find it or do not recognize the character of the players?

    once again, play Zaha – JANUZAJ – Kagawa!! if you need to play Lingard or ANDERSON!!

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