Where next for Moyes and United?
Whilst there are talks in the other half of Manchester about going for a quadruple, the truth is that the Capital One Cup was the only chance of any real silverware in Moyes’s first season in charge. Although he already has the Community Shield in the bag, that was nothing more than a one-off and with the defeat to Sunderland in the semifinals of the Cup, it looks as though United might just end Moyes’s first season trophy less.
Although United are still in the Champions League, with the squad they have, even an incorrigible optimist will find it difficult to back them. The only saving grace for Moyes is that he still has a few of his star players to come back from injury.
What has happened to United’s mental strength?
Already this season United have gone behind 11 times, and truth be told, on most occasions never really looked like making their way out of a hole. Whilst question marks over Moyes’s ability still lingers on, the truth is that some of his senior players have let him down. The under-performance of the experienced campaigners coupled with the lack of quality in the squad has contributed to a disappointing season thus far.
And this lack of mental toughness was evident in the shoot-out when several senior players declined to take the penalty, leaving it youngsters like Rafael, Phil Jones and Januzaj. Something has to give, if United are to turn things around.
Was this the worst penalty shootout ever?
Whilst the 120 minutes before the shootout was largely engaging, particularly the final minute which saw a goal being scored by either side, the penalty shootout wasn’t. In fact, of ten penalties that were taken, only three were scored. The first two spot kicks were too high as both Craig Gardner and Danny Welbeck missed the chance to put their side in the lead. The next set of spot kicks saw Steven Fletcher’s effort being saved by De Gea whilst Darren Fletcher calmly slotted his away.
After that Sunderland scored their next two penalties, but Januzaj sent one straight into the arms of Mannone and Phil Jones blasted it high. In the final round, Johnson missed his chance and Rafael failed to send the game into sudden death, and it was all over for United. Irrespective of the game, the shootout was certainly an exhibition of penalty missing by both sides.Johnson flatters to deceive
Before the game, there were some Sunderland fans claiming that Adam Johnson deserved an England call up on the back of his last two games, which has seen him score four goals- including a hat-trick in the 4-1 win at Fulham. Instead of taking the game by the scruff of the neck, the England winger flattered to deceive in his big opportunity in the semifinal.
Johnson displayed all of the reasons why he was let go by Manchester City and failed to catch the eye. The 26-year-old was wasteful with his free kicks, disappointing with his delivery from crosses and offered precious little in the form of attacking threat. His disappointing evening was made worse, when his penalty was tamely struck and was easily palmed over by David de Gea.
A mauling in the cards in the final?
Sunderland’s victory in the semifinals means that they will meet Manchester City in the final of the Capital One Cup. The good news is that Sunderland are one game away from winning the season’s first silverware. But the bad news is that they come up against Manchester City, a side, who have already scored over 100 goals this season and are looking for an unprecedented quadruple this season.
Sunderland know fully well that they aren’t in the same caliber as their opponents and a difficult task awaits them in the final. And whilst on paper, the likes of Sergio Agüero, Yaya Touré, David Silva and co. should prove too much for the Black Cats, as Wigan showed last season, anything is possible in football. Sunderland fans will be hoping to make the impossible possible in the final.