Yeovil Town and then Cambridge United. The Reds have made hard work of their FA Cup campaign but it’s still our best chance of winning something this season.
Preston North End have knocked Norwich City and Sheffield United out of the competition and will undoubtedly be up for an upset to storm into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
They currently sit fourth in League One, comfortably in the promotion area and just 8 points off league leaders Bristol City. Considering the problems we’ve at home to Burnley on Tuesday night we’re going to have to smarten up tonight and not just make it difficult for Preston… but absolutely smother them.
It’s unlikely to be a walk in the park judging on how we’ve approach similar opposition this season but it would be a relief to see us stroll past them like a Manchester United side should.
There’s something about playing lower league opposition, though, and it may be amongst the reasons we’ve struggled against them of late. They go into ties like this with nothing to lose and are underdogs every step of the way. Win at it’s the magic of the cup; they’re going all the way or anything else is a bonus. Lose and, well, they were knocked out by the 20 times champions of England.
Both sets of fans are excited about the clash. For most United fans travelling it will be their first time at Deepdale. Preston, on the other hand, get to watch the famous Manchester United with nothing to lose. They will go for it and rightly so.
Louis van Gaal is doing anything but hiding the fact he wants the FA Cup this season by selecting strong teams against lesser opposition. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any drastic changes in the starting line-up but recent knocks to Daley Blind and Phil Jones may make the manager think long term. Rafael Da Silva needs a run in the first team and whatever is happening behind the scenes with Ander Herrera needs to be addressed.
A night off for David de Gea? Again, unlikely. Victor Valdes is yet to make his first team debut but van Gaal recently said “when you are out for more than a year, first of all you have to show yourself at a lower level,” in reference to the reserves.
“He has to do it in the second team. Like Ashley Young is doing that, like Michael Carrick has to do that. It is always the same. I think it is normal.”
My gut feeling is that we’re making most out of de Gea while we have have him. The long the better. Although, a start in FA Cup ties against lesser opposition would make sense for Valdes regardless of much football he’s played in the last year. The Spanish goalkeeper, like Dave, has different pedigree to most keepers in England.
If I knew more about Preston’s squad, I’d now go into detail about what to expect but like all League One sides I will assume they’re a physical unit that will go through you for a short cut. Answer: Marouane hairy bollocks Fellaini. His elbows alone will take us a long way through these ties.
Up front there is plenty to choose from. In a recent interview Louis van Gaal admitted Wayne Rooney is possibly his best striker but will continue to play in midfield. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the England international play a forward role tonight. Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie are not working together as a combination and it may be down to them being too similar. In a tie against Preston, United should be mixing it up and testing other combinations and winning either way.
Tonight would be a good time to start looking convincing. Top 4 in the league is still very open and the quicker we get our act together the better. Louis van Gaal’s men need to show style and substance.
MU MUF MUFC OK!