After showing signs of hope with a win against Swansea City last weekend, Manchester United came crashing back down to earth with another lackluster display in the FA Cup against Sheffield United at Old Trafford. In the end, the result will show United advancing to the next round and gaining all three points, but the play was simply boring, with the Red Devils not registering a shot on goal until the second half.
The Red Devils were atrocious going forward in the first half, however, the introduction of Memphis Depay for the ineffective Juan Mata made the difference. Memphis’ direct play produced some shots on target, but it was his marauding run that earned United the penalty in stoppage time that Wayne Rooney calmly slotted home.
You would expect the old guard of Rooney, Mata, and World Cup Winner, Bastian Schweinsteiger, to take a match like this by the scruff of the neck and produce some magic, nonetheless, it simply did not happen. Young, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson impressed and kept his cool in a match where a young player like himself may have panicked.
No, Borthwick-Jackson did not score or make and noteworthy crunching or game saving tackles, but he gives van Gaal another option with injuries and poor form to Phil Jones. At just 18 years of age, his composure on the ball gives the United faithful hope that he can be the next Patrice Evra on the left side of the defence.
Borthwick- Jackson’s solid defensive display, which resulted in clean sheet for the United defence, and his willingness to usher himself forward and join in the depleted United attack, earned the young Englishman player of the match status in the ugly win.
Van Gaal’s blank stare after the Rooney penalty that sealed the win, simply summed of his feelings and the United supporters for the match. The Red Devils will live to fight another day, but van Gaal’s side had no business winning this match.