After the disastrous Manchester derby, United returned to action with a trip to Aldershot in the Carling cup, and a good opportunity to get back to winning ways before the difficult game versus Everton at the weekend. Having beaten Leeds United in the previous round, Fergie opted for a similar line up, with Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov leading the line for the reds, both with intentions of forcing their way back into the first team reckoning. Tom Cleverley and Nemanja Vidic returned from injury to give United a further boost ahead of the weekend, and with prodigal talents Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison on the bench, there was plenty to keep the United faithful entertained.
With United looking to set the record straight, the reds began brightly with some tidy passing, and good movement as the re introduction of Tom Cleverley looked to re invigorate what had been a recently inept midfield. Vidic looked to be still shaking off some cob webs after his early season injury, and was quickly in the book for a very late lunge on Aldershot striker Rodman. It was a brief soiree into the United half however, and soon it was the reds cutting edge which proved decisive in giving them an early lead on 15 minutes, as some superb link up play between Cleverley, Park and Berbatov allowed the Bulgarian time to turn and finish with his left foot. Most assumed United would go on to accumulate a convincing victory, however, credit must be given to the shots who responded magnificently to going a goal behind and enjoyed their best spell of the game. Cruelly for the home side, United again proved their class just before half time, as Berbatov, seemingly playing his way back into the reckoning, produced a wonderful assist for Owen who made no mistake from 7 yards out, finishing Aldershot’s realistic chance of getting back into the tie.
Having all but guaranteed their passage into the next round, the question on most United’s fans lips was when would we see Morrison and Pogba the two mercurial talents which have got many people eulogizing about legends of the past. Antonio Valencia however had other ideas, and scored an early contender for goal of the season with just 3 minutes of the second half gone, smashing in a 30 yard rocket into the top corner giving him a much needed confidence boost after a somewhat unconvincing start to the season. Dimitar Berbatov nearly made it 4 with a wonderful solo effort, charging down the left wing, before deceiving two Aldershot defenders with a deft Cruyff turn, only to disappointingly scuff his shot wide. Pogba got his chance on the hour mark, replacing Cleverley and immediately displaying the qualities he possesses, showing athleticism, and a natural instinct in terms of positioning and simple passing. A relatively quiet final 20 minutes were brightened up by the addition of Morrison, who arguably the greater of the two talents, produced glimpses of why many are so keen to put his personal problems to one side, with a cameo containing flicks, skills and movement which show he has a bright future if he wants it. United closed out the game with ease as Aldershot legs began to tire, and make their way into a minefield of a quarter final draw, with all the ‘big boys’ still in the competition.
Amos – 6 Very little to do, fantastic save at the death.
Fabio – 6 Steady performance, enjoyed going forward.
Jones – 6 Comfortable night.
Vidic – 6 Clumsy yellow, but grew as the game progressed.
Fryers – 7 Possible challenge for Evra in the coming years.
Valencia – 7 Wonderfully taken goal.
Cleverley – 7 Only took an hour to show what we have been missing.
Park – 7 Good runs on the ball and worked the opening goal well.
Diouf – 5 Struggled out of position.
Berbatov – 8 MOTM Surely played himself into at least a bench position on saturday.
Owen – 7 Carling cup specialist for United.
Pogba – 6 Neat passing and good awareness.
Morrison – 6 Wonderful, yet brief cameo. Hope to see more in future weeks.
Keane – 5 Calm debut for United.