Manchester United suffered penalty shootout heartbreak as they crashed out of the League Cup Semi-Final. Could City still do them a favour?
Manchester United looked set for a final berth at Wembley when they were leading Sunderland over the two legs with minutes to spare, courtesy of a rather divisive away goal ruling.
As ex-Man Utd fullback Phil Bardsley lined up a pot shot from outside the area, it somehow managed to find a way past a goalkeeper who hasn’t made a mistake since Boxing Day 2012 – How is your luck David Moyes?
Nevertheless, Mexican striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez managed to give the Red Devils one more opportunity through a penalty shootout thanks to a dramatic goal deep into injury time of extra time.
Despite Sunderland missing first and then only scoring two penalties, it was enough to put them through after Manchester United displayed a mirror opposite of their successful penalties in Moscow over five years ago. David Moyes’s men scored just one of five attempts.
Following Vito Mannone’s save from Rafael, Sunderland and Gus Poyet celebrated wildly with their tremendously backed fans high in the corner as David Moyes trudged off the pitch to mull over yet another Old Trafford sucker punch.
The words ‘League Cup Final’ are probably the last words that Manchester United will want to hear right now, yet the game in February could still have a huge impact on their season and it is one they will want neighbours Manchester City to win.
Whilst the Premier League’s top three appear to be breaking away, there are only seven points which separates Liverpool in 4th and Newcastle United in 8th. For those two plus Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, the race for fourth spot should now be seen as the number one goal.
So why should David Moyes and his men want Manchester City to beat Sunderland in the League Cup Final?
Well, a City win would then guarantee a Europa League spot for the team that finishes in 6th place as Manuel Pellegrini’s side will almost certainly be competing in next season’s Champions League.
The Red Devils currently occupy 7th spot in the Premier League, six points adrift of both Liverpool and Tottenham with Everton sandwiched between them.
Whilst it would be strange to see Manchester United out of Europe altogether next season, their 2014 record of five losses in six games could see that become a reality and a disappointing 6th may become a lifeline.
Would Manchester United be able to attract the quality needed to become title challengers again with no European competitions to offer potential stars?
The answer might well be no. Therefore putting the rivalry aside and thinking in the best interests of Manchester United, United may well wish to support the noisy neighbours during February’s big Wembley occasion.
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