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Is Manchester United's season on the verge of being derailed?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda

Manchester United v Chelsea - FA Cup Sixth Round

Manchester United and Chelsea players walking out for the FA Cup match

It seems like Manchester United has shifted gears and changed tracks, moving full steam ahead, towards the way Barcelona‘s season is headed. The latter was recently defeated by AC Milan and Real Madrid, and United’s season could be derailed in similar fashion.

Both teams opened a huge gap in their respective domestic leagues, but were quickly brought to ground just when their respective seasons were about to soar.

United were knocked out of Europe and Barca out of its domestic cup, by the same side. And now, both teams cling on to the faintest hope that they could progress, in different competitions, to the next stage.

In all fairness to Barcelona, they didn’t have Tito Vilanova to motivate the troops when Barca played Milan and Madrid. Despite the popular belief that the team can manage itself, Barca were in desperate need of Vilanova’s tactical acumen.

United, on the contrary had Sir Alex Ferguson, armed with his hairdryer and threatening to plug it in, if complacency crept in. Against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final, the hairdryer wasn’t exactly blowing hot air, when United allowed Chelsea to comeback to draw the match from 2-0 down. But Sir Alex was on the defensive: “We’re lucky to be in the cup. We ran out of legs . . our two full-backs, Rafael and Evra, are just knackered.”

Indeed, United just made four changes from the side that played Real Madrid on Tuesday night, while Chelsea made seven changes after their Europa loss to Steaua Bucuresti.

Benitez swapped his two full-backs with Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta. Moses and Ramires, who were rested in midweek, were used against United. Juan Mata played for 30 minutes on Thursday, and Demba Ba did not travel with the squad because he was cup-tied. In short, Chelsea had more fresh legs on the pitch than United had.

And it showed when Rooney lost the ball inside Chelsea’s box and they quickly countered; finishing off the move with a goal from Ramires.

United sorely needed some pace in their game, but Sir Alex did not use either Anderson or Ashley Young. True, they may not be match-winners, but they must be taken seriously for the pace they bring in to the attack. Instead, Sir Alex decided to bring on van Persie for Javier Hernandez and moved Wayne Rooney to the left.

Rooney was having a quiet game after he scored in the eleventh minute, and moving him out of his preferred position did not help neither United nor him. It felt like Sir Alex was unwilling to stoke the fire after the press reacted negatively for leaving Rooney out of the Madrid tie.

Benitez, on the other hand, seems to have placed the FA Cup above Chelsea’s European ambitions. His tinkering with the squad nearly paid off, if not for David de Gea, who stuck his foot out to clear Mata’s shot from five yards. After the match, Benitez went on the pitch to shake de Gea’s hand, and headed towards the tunnel without acknowledging Sir Alex.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda

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