Attack, attack, attacking substitution, attack. Against Leicester City on Saturday, Manchester United were totally dominant in the first half but took their foot off the gas, allowed Leicester back in the game. That didn’t happen against Cambridge United.
Instead of bringing on a defender for a striker, Louis van Gaal made a like for like substitution in James Wilson for Robin van Persie and United kept the same attacking impetus. The pressure on Cambridge for the full 90 minutes was very good and United really squeeze the space well. Yes, United should always have had the upper hand against League Two opposition but they didn’t in the first tie against Cambridge, so it was a vast improvement.
Not only was McNair’s crossing on point but his passing in general movement and intelligent runs carved real opportunities for United in a way Antonio Valencia simply hasn’t done all season.
Rafael played the full 90 minutes for United’s U21s against Fulham on Monday night but instead of looking at Valencia as his competition at right-back, could the versatile McNair also be competing for the position?
Angel di Maria plays well in his right position. Who’d have thought that playing somebody in their correct position gets the best out of them? Di Maria started off in left central midfield for Man United but as the game progressed, he floated around in a free roaming role and caused Cambridge no end of problems.
The Argentinian has had a few muted performances recently but he was electric against Cambridge. Sure, they were League Two opposition but that’s what you want to see from Di Maria. Looked much more like the player who was so dangerous at the start of the season.
Ander Herrera‘s superb cameo. The Spaniard was once again left out of Man United’s starting XI by Van Gaal which, once again, left fans scratching their heads as to why. The scratching became incessant less than five minutes after Herrera came on from the bench.
Herrera slid James Wilson through with a guided forward pass and he made no mistake to give Man United a commanding 3-0 lead. It was exactly the sort of pass fans expected to see from Herrera and his impact came as no surprise – he’s a cracking little midfielder.
Yet, Van Gaal, for one reason or another, deems him surplus to requirements. After another impressive cameo, that trend surely has to follow Fellaini wigs into the bin.
Man United really want to win the FA Cup. Van Gaal could hardly have put out a stronger starting XI against Cambridge and hasn’t tried to hide the fact he sees the FA Cup as is no.1 priority this season.
Preston North End are up next in what will be another away tie for United. One more win and a quarter-final place awaits.