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Manchester United: Nothing decided, but what was revealed?

Mar 10, 2013, 2:53 PM EDT

Manchester United v Chelsea - FA Cup Sixth Round Getty Images

Who would have possibly imagined seeing an Manchester United side so enfeebled? Looking suddenly so fragile and emotional spent? At home, no less!

Chelsea fully earned an FA Cup replay in the coming days at Stamford Bridge, utterly standing on Manchester United in the second half of Sunday’s highly entertaining contest at Old Trafford. In fact, while Chelsea will feel OK in the big picture about the 2-2 draw that brings the clash of EPL giants back to London, the cast from Stamford Bridge will rightly feel they should have finished this one.

The Red Devils could still rally, shuffle past Chelsea in FA Cup redemption and go on to a 2013 double, writing yet another chapter in the storied Alex Ferguson opus. Yes, it could happen.

Still, there is no escaping the dark-and-storminess that has been Manchester United’s week. First came the Champions League crash-out to Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho may have proclaimed that the best team lost. Fair enough. But lose the Red Devils did.

But to have a 2-0 lead at home into the second half … and now face a replay against Chelsea just days later? That is the stuff of nightmares, Manchester United’s version of pychos and chainsaws.

They looked so shaky, particularly in the back, as John Obi Mikel made the difference in midfield, and as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard rode in on waves of late attacking menace.

If not for David de Gea, the goalkeeper who has surely answered questions about his ability and worthiness to guard the fabled Old Trafford goal, this would be worse yet. (As Juan Mata cut inside with the silkiest, most skill touch late in this one, winding up to shoot from point-blank range, who among us watching weren’t saying “goal” as if it were sure as water running downhill?)

And this is without mentioning the sideshow, the ridiculously premature obituary-writing of Wayne Rooney’s career.

Presumably, Ferguson’s men can hang onto their league lead. They’ll bounce back enough for that. Past that, however … it’s fair to wonder about just how much this gut-punch of a week will take out of Ferguson’s men.

  1. bigdinla - Mar 10, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Quit watching so much BBC. Way to overly dramatic! Yes they were hungover from the Real Madrid loss and played that way. This is still the best team in the EPL.

  2. unclemosesgreen - Mar 10, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    It’s worth mentioning that ManU completely bossed the first half of this game and could easily have been up 4-0 at the break.

    DeGea was massive, and as you mentioned, the save on Mata was as good a save as I have ever seen.

    My real problem was with Valencia – he was abysmal. I don’t have access to advanced stats, but I’d be surprised if he completed as many as 50% of his passes. I have never been a big fan of his, but have also never seen him play quite this poorly.

  3. unclemosesgreen - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Apparently I’m not done talking about this game. Cleverley has hit a run of bad form and it is deepening. He’s overdue for some time sitting on car seats in the dugout. His most authoritative run with the ball was a weaving, twisting bit of insanity about 35 yards diagonally backwards from near midfield into his own penalty box.

    Also, Chelsea fans are out of their frickin’ minds. Their hatred of Rafa Benitez is just beyond the pale. He’s a good manager, and his substitutions changed the entire shape and tenor of the game.

    • Steve Davis - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      I don’t disagree with any of that. But STILL outright shocked at how Man U looked at the end. I mean, how many times have we seen the very same thing at Old Trafford … except going the other way, where some poor team is just barely hanging on?

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        That’s no overreaction, they have a great many players in poor form. Aside from the guys we already mentioned, Patrice Evra is starting to look outmatched against the best young players, RVP is undeniably in poor form, also Michael Carrick didn’t bring much to the table today (although he’s looked better than that very recently.)

        They don’t look at all up for the double. But the good news is that they still have depth and quality on the side, and a very large points lead to cushion any brief fall in the BPL.

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