Date:Sunday April 19 2009
Sir Alex Ferguson will be criticised a lot for fielding an understrength team for the FA Cup semi-final against Everton. United, despite having the upper hand during the game, lost in a penalty shootout because the youngsters could not turn their superiority into goals.
Rafael, Fabio, Gibson, Welbeck and Macheda all started and they were all good. The defence was fine and the twins did not let anyone go past them; Gibson held his own in midfield and could have scored with a dangerous shot; Macheda and Welbeck combined in lovely fashion in the first half and though the Italian faded in the second, Welbeck continued to excel and he was unlucky not to win a penalty and not to score with a brilliant curling shot that just evaded the top corner.
So it's not that the youngsters were out of their depth: that's more true of Tevez who produced yet another disappointing performance... Of course our strongest team might have won the game. But only one thing is certain: that we'll have two league games in six days and a Champions League semi-final after that. Our jaded key players need a break badly and only by taking a gamble with this game could Fergie give them that.
Yes, we lost and yes, it's painful. But the league is more important so I'm quite happy that Rooney, Ronaldo, Carrick or Giggs did not have to endure such an intense game on a difficult pitch. They earned a little rest after the Porto heroics and hopefully it will help us in our title bid.
Date:Sunday April 19 2009
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