Manchester United - this big game can turn around season

Old Trafford Statues

All those years ago - 24 to be exact - then plain Alex Ferguson is thought to have been spared the sack but for a goal by Manchester United's Mark Robins, which saw Ferguson's team beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the Third Round of the FA Cup.

Manchester United won the FA Cup that year, and Sir Alex Ferguson went to to become the most successful British manager ever, winning 38 trophies in 26 years at the club. He became only the third British manager to win the European Cup / Champions League on more than one occasion, and was Knighted for his services to the game in 1999. 

But for well over 3 years, Ferguson failed to deliver silverware. Today, of course, managers aren't generally given the luxury of 3 years - especially if you are at Manchester United. Indeed, after little more than 3 months, the knives were out for current Manchester United manager David Moyes.

Fast forward to today, and things don't look good - the manager looks clueless, the players appear demotivated, and the fans are up in arms. Another defeat Tuesday (against bottom-of-the Premier League Sunderland in the Cup), and no-one was surprised.

But let's get real. The return leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at Old Trafford on 22nd January sees Sunderland holding a slender one goal lead. And, yes, we all know that Manchester United's recent home form hasn't been good, but surely Moyes' team have to be favourites to get through ?

The manager will rally the troops, the players will up their game, the fans will play the part of 12th man, and Manchester United will go through to their first Cup Final under Moyes. And when you get to Wembley, anything could happen - especially if you are the underdogs playing neighbours Manchester City (as seems guaranteed).

The 22nd January, then, is a key day for Manchester United; an impressive performance and victory against Sunderland might start the ball rolling, providing the momentum required to progress in both the Premier and Champions League.

If everyone gets behind the club (including the Glazers), Manchester United could end the season with silverware, a quarter-final place in the Champions League (maybe better), and fourth place in the Prem. Most fans would take that right now, and it wouldn't be bad for a club 'in transition'.

Lose on the 22nd, however, and all bets are off.

image: © eirikref

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